Be Smart. Be Safe. Tour hits the road to help Albertans lead safer lives, protect property, prepare for emergencies: IBC

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EDMONTON, June 2 2009 – The sleek, shiny trailer has been packed full of interactive displays and exhibits, and four Alberta student ambassadors have just graduated from injury-prevention boot camp. That means Insurance Bureau of Canada’s (IBC’s) 2009 Be Smart. Be Safe. tour is ready to hit the open road again this summer to show people how they can lead safer lives, protect their property and prepare for emergencies.

The award-winning community outreach program, now in its second year, kicked off in Edmonton today. From June through August, the trailer will visit approximately 30 fairs and festivals.

“IBC has a long history of working with governments and safety organizations to make our communities safer,” said Jim Rivait, Vice-President, Alberta and the North, IBC. “From seatbelt laws and graduated licensing to campaigns against drinking and driving, insurers have always been at the leading edge of injury prevention initiatives. Be Smart. Be Safe. is a natural evolution of that tradition.”

Most injuries, whether at home, work or play, are preventable. In addition, Alberta roads are the scene of approximately 400 fatalities and 27,000 injuries every year and driver errors are responsible for over 90% of collisions. “Those errors can be attributed to a number of contributing factors such as inexperience, driver fatigue, distractions, unexpected road hazards and weather conditions,” Rivait added.

To address this issue, IBC has upgraded its popular driving simulator – now known as DUMB Car 2.0 – to cover a broader range of road safety issues including distractions, driving in adverse weather conditions, avoiding road hazards and identifying the point-of-no-return at traffic lights. IBC has also included an eco driving segment to teach drivers how to improve fuel efficiency and reduce their carbon footprints.

“Last summer, I was one of about 4,000 Albertans who tried the D.U.M.B. Car and was impressed by how instantly it demonstrated the dangers of driving while distracted,” said Hon. Luke Ouellette, Minister of Transportation and MLA for Innisfail-Sylvan Lake. “I’m sure this summer, the DUMB Car 2.0 simulator will be just as popular as last year’s version. We can all use a refresher course on safe driving and I urge everyone to try the upgrade and learn from the experience.”

Also new to the tour this year is the Hazard House, a three-dimensional, interactive simulator that teaches families about fire safety and injury prevention in every room of the house. Other popular displays include Safe Home Now!, which features a number of “What’s wrong with this picture?” scenarios to help children prevent common household injuries. Survivor 72 shows the public what items should be included in an emergency preparedness kit to enable them to survive the first 72 hours following a natural disaster. The Safety Quiz allows people to test their safety I.Q. in a number of categories – at home, at work, on the road and at play.

As part of its community outreach program, IBC has trained a team of Alberta university students to act as youth ambassadors this summer. From June to August, the students will talk to thousands of Albertans to deliver safety messages to help them lead safer lives and prepare for emergencies.

“I applaud IBC and the Be Smart. Be Safe. student ambassadors for taking road safety messages directly to drivers in communities throughout the province this summer,” said Greg Weadick, Chair of the Cabinet Policy Committee on the Economy, and MLA, Lethbridge-West. “Their efforts are helping to make our roads and highways safer for everyone.”

In the coming weeks, the Be Smart. Be Safe. trailers and student ambassadors will travel to Red Deer, Medicine Hat and Drayton Valley before heading to Sherwood Park for Strathcona County Canada Day celebrations. For the complete tour calendar, visit www.ibc.ca.

About Insurance Bureau of Canada:

Insurance Bureau of Canada is the national industry association representing Canada’s private home, car and business insurers. Its member companies represent nearly 95% of the property and casualty (P&C) insurance market in Canada. The P&C industry employs over 110,000 Canadians, pays more than $6 billion in taxes to the federal and provincial governments, and has a total premium base of $38 billion.