D.U.M.B. Struck Tour 2007 hits the road: Insurance Bureau of Canada takes driver distraction simulators across Ontario this summer to help combat distracted driving

TORONTO, June 8, 2007 – This summer, thousands of Ontario drivers will learn about the dangers of distracted driving, thanks to a province-wide community outreach program launched recently.

The D.U.M.B. Struck Tour, developed by Insurance Bureau of Canada (IBC), made its first official stop at the St. Jacobs Farmers’ Market as part of a joint event with the Drive to Stay Alive (DTSA) Coalition of Waterloo Region. Both IBC and DTSA are launching summer campaigns that address driver distraction.

The star of IBC’s program is the D.U.M.B. Car (Distractions Undermining Motorist Behaviour), a simulator that tests drivers’ reactions to distractions such as cellphones, CDs, iPods, eating and drinking — and even personal grooming. The car includes an actual-size driver’s seat, a gas pedal and brake, a steering wheel, a dashboard, and a plasma monitor.

“Driver distraction is a factor in up to 8 out of 10 vehicle collisions in North America. It’s one of the most serious road safety issues in the country today, and we know it’s also a growing concern among Canadians,” said Mark Yakabuski, Vice-President, Federal Affairs & Ontario, IBC. “Taking our simulators on the road will help us engage the public about distracted driving in an entertaining way, and, we hope, encourage Ontario drivers to change their habits for the better.”

A recent poll of Canadians found that 89% of respondents were concerned about driver distractions such as talking on a cellphone. But an alarming 60% of drivers indicated they would not stop using their cellphones when driving — even when told that their cellphone use makes them four times more likely to be involved in a collision.

The campaign combines public awareness and education with interactive activities that allow participants to simulate their driving behaviour in the face of different distractions and see the impact these distractions have on their driving performance.

“Since we introduced the D.U.M.B. Car last January as part of a public education campaign, we have been inundated with requests from communities throughout Ontario,” said Yakabuski. “To meet the demand, we decided to take the D.U.M.B. Car on tour this summer, and help drive home the dangers of distraction to as many Ontarians as possible.”

Two D.U.M.B. Cars will visit community fairs, festivals and other events this summer, each in a specially designed trailer and staffed by a team of university students. The tour also features other popular attractions, including a kiosk with a virtual road test, a display about how to prevent whiplash injuries, and, for children, the “Safe Home Now” display, which teaches them how to avoid common household hazards.

At selected events, like one held at Conestoga Mall in Waterloo in May, audiences will be treated to a special magic show by “Dr. Izonroad” and “The Evil Distracto” (Toronto magicians Bobby Motta and Peter MacKinnon), who use mind-bending magic to drive home the dangers of driver distraction. The D.U.M.B. Struck Tour will go on the road until October, visiting events throughout Ontario, including communities in the GTA (Mississauga, Scarborough and Oakville), as well as the Region of Waterloo, Peterborough, Dunnville, Markham, Essex, Fergus, Belleville, Ottawa, Wasaga Beach, London, Mosport, Orangeville, and more. For more locations, dates and times, visit www.ibc.ca.

About Insurance Bureau of Canada:

Insurance Bureau of Canada is the national trade association for the private property and casualty insurance industry. It represents insurers who provide more than 90 percent of the non-government home, car and business insurance in Canada. For more information, visit www.ibc.ca.