Insurers go to great lengths to help Albertans lead safer lives and be better
prepared for emergencies

Entertainment, prizes and family fun highlight 2010 Be Smart. Be Safe. Tour

EDMONTON, May 26 /CNW/ - Insurance Bureau of Canada's (IBC's) award-winning Be Smart. Be Safe. Tour kicked off its third consecutive season today at Sir Winston Churchill Square with entertainment, prizes and family fun. Even the Edmonton Fire Department got into the spirit by prominently displaying one of their pump trucks in the square to remind Albertans about fire safety.

This summer, the tour will log more than 29,000 kilometres across the province to show Albertans how to lead safer lives and prepare for emergencies. A team of four student ambassadors, fresh from an intense 10-day training camp, will hit the road this week, and the tour will visit some 32 fairs and festivals over the coming months to deliver important safety messages directly to Albertans.

"IBC has a long history of working with governments and safety organizations to make Canadian communities safer. From seatbelt laws and graduated licensing to campaigns against drinking and driving, insurers have always been at the leading edge of injury prevention initiatives. The Be Smart. Be Safe. Tour is a natural evolution of that tradition," said Jeff Haley, IBC's Director of Government Relations.

Back this year is the ever-popular DUMB Car 2.0, IBC's driving simulator that demonstrates the dangers of driving while distracted by talking on a cellphone or text messaging. The DUMB Car simulator also allows drivers to brush up on their skills in a number of other situations including driving in adverse weather conditions, avoiding road hazards and identifying the point-of-no-return at traffic lights. In addition, an eco-driving segment teaches drivers how to improve fuel efficiency and reduce their carbon footprints.

"IBC started the discussion about distracted driving when we introduced the DUMB Car simulator back in 2007 - long before Oprah started her powerful campaign in the U.S., I might add," said Haley. "In Canada, a number of provinces have introduced legislation that makes it illegal for drivers to talk, text, type, dial or email using hand-held device. But we want to remind drivers that 'hands free' doesn't mean you're 'home free.' Research confirms that even when drivers talk on a cellphone using a hands-free device, they are still four times more likely to have a collision. Even the United Nations said just last week that within two decades distracted driving will be more deadly than wars, AIDS or cancer," he added.

"I'm sure that this summer the DUMB Car will continue to attract large crowds because it so clearly demonstrates the dangers of driving while distracted," said Peter Sandhu, MLA for Edmonton-Manning, at the launch. "We can all use a refresher course on safe driving, and I urge everyone to 'drive' the DUMB Car and learn from the experience."

Also featured in the tour 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 which items should be included in an emergency preparedness kit to enable them to survive the first 72 hours following a natural disaster.

"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 Don Iveson, Edmonton City Councillor.

"Their efforts are helping to make our roads and highways safer for everyone," added Evan Berger, MLA for Livingstone-Macleod.

In the coming weeks, the Be Smart. Be Safe. Tour will travel to events in St. Albert, Medicine Hat, Spruce Meadows, Wainwright and Millarville. For the complete tour calendar, visit www.ibc.ca.

Insurance Bureau of Canada is the national industry association representing Canada's private home, car and business insurers. Its member companies represent 90% 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, provincial and municipal governments, and has a total premium base of $39 billion.

Note to editors: To view a short video on the Be Smart. Be Safe. Alberta Tour, click on the link below. This video footage is provided for the free and unrestricted use of media outlets. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lMyu18cH80A

SOURCE BE SMART. BE SAFE.

For further information: For further information: Ellen Woodger: (416) 483-2358; Pete Karageorgos: (416) 362-2031 ext. 4329

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