SGI A Partner In ‘Heads Up’ Initiative

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July 27, 2009 – Saskatoon Emergency Service (EMS) providers and other organizations concerned about the number of vehicle/pedestrian collisions occuring on Saskatoon streets each year came together today to launch “Heads Up”, an awareness campaign to remind Saskatoon residents they need to pay more attention to traffic safety rules. The campaign was officially launched by Saskatoon Mayor Don Atchison and the campaign partners and supporters.

Campaign partners MD Ambulance, Saskatoon Police Service, Saskatoon Fire & Protective Services, Saskatoon Health Region, Saskatchewan Government Insurance, and the Saskatoon Community Clinic each contributed both funding and in-kind services to create, develop and implement the “Heads Up” campaign. Greater Saskatoon Catholic Schools, Saskatoon Public Schools, Rawlco Radio and the Star Phoenix are also supporting the campaign by funding materials for schools and advertising.

The partners hope the easy to remember campaign slogan “Heads Up” and alarming but realistic tagline “Every 4 days a pedestrian is injured or killed on Saskatoon streets” will serve as a firm reminder to pedestrians, cyclists and motorists that they need to pay careful attention to the rules of the road.

“Our hope is that this messaging will be remembered by everyone and that it will play some role in helping to decrease the number of both vehicle/pedestrian collisions occuring in Saskatoon each year, which has reached and even exceeded 100 in the past number of years, and cycling accidents, which have also increased in the past few years,” says Dave Dutchak of MD Ambulance, the organization who spearheaded the campaign.

While the partners say there is no one reason for the alarming number of collisions occurring in Saskatoon each year, some of reasons could be: the increase in Saskatoon�s population � more cars, motorcycles/bicycles and pedestrians on the road; motorists and cyclists not focussing on the driving task, or failing to signal and shoulder-check when changing lanes. At the same time, an increased number of pedestrians are using earphones, ipods, jay-walking, or just not paying attention to traffic around them.

Saskatoon Police Services Chief Clive Weighill says the Police Service is expanding its traffic section by eight members to address increasing traffic issues. “Many of these collisions are avoidable and while more officers working on traffic enforcement and education will have an impact, we�re taking an additional step through this campaign to remind residents that their actions will either cause or prevent collisions,” says Weighill.

Saskatoon Fire & Protective Services agrees more awareness is needed about road and traffic safety. Chief Bob Fawcett says a large portion of their calls for service are related to traffic collisions. “While we�re here to respond, we feel we also have a role to play in helping to remind everyone — motorists, cyclists and pedestrians � that they need to pay more attention to the rules of the road to stay safe,” says Fawcett.

As front-line responders, Saskatoon’s EMS providers are hopeful the results will be noticed not only in the community but by their own staff as well. “Everyone suffers when a pedestrian or cyclist is injured or killed by a vehicle � certainly, the person hurt or killed and their family, and the motorist and his or her family suffer immensely. But these collisions also have detrimental effects on the health and well-being of our own paramedics and staff members � and this is evident through the tremendous support this campaign has received from the other organizations who came on board to support the campaign” says Dutchak.

From today until mid-September Saskatoon pedestrians, cyclists and motorists will be exposed to campaign messaging in a variety of ways including billboards, signage on the exterior and interior of city buses, newspaper and radio advertising, public service announcements, decals on EMS vehicles, newsletter articles, posters, and other materials placed in Saskatoon schools.

About SGI

SGI is the province’s self-sustaining auto insurance fund. SGI operates 21 claims centres and five salvage centres across Saskatchewan and a head office in Regina. The organization employs 1,800 people and works with a network of almost 300 independent insurance brokers and 420 motor licence issuers across the province. www.sgi.sk.ca