Insurers helping Ontarians lead safer lives, protect property and prepare for
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Entertainment, prizes and family fun highlight 2010 Be Smart. Be Safe. Tour

TORONTO, June 2 /CNW/ - Insurance Bureau of Canada's (IBC's) award-winning Be Smart. Be Safe. Tour kicked off its sixth consecutive season today at Harbourfront with entertainment, prizes and family fun. Even Scout and Rudy, matching bearded collies, got into the act as models in a lifejacket fashion show to remind boaters that every member of the family should wear the proper personal flotation device (PFD).

This summer, the tour will log more than 75,000 kilometres to show Ontarians how to lead safer lives and protect their property. A team of eight student ambassadors, fresh from an intense 10-day training camp, will hit the road this week, and the tour will visit some 50 Ontario fairs and festivals over the coming months to deliver important safety messages directly to Ontarians.

"IBC has a long history of working with governments and safety organizations to make Canadian communities safer. The Be Smart. Be Safe. Tour is a natural evolution of that tradition," said Ralph Palumbo, Vice-President, Ontario, IBC.

At the event, Canada's home, car and business insurers presented a donation of $5,000 to Safe Communities Canada in support of its efforts to build communities that are free of injury and safe for everyone.

Paul Kells, President of Safe Communities Canada, said: "Safe Communities Canada is honoured to have IBC as one of its national partners in our effort to heighten awareness of the serious issue of personal injury. The Be Smart. Be Safe. initiative is one of the most effective injury prevention programs in Canada. It reaches thousands of people each year and helps to save lives, protect property and have a lasting effect on Canadians, particularly young people, for years to come."

The star of the tour again this year is the ever-popular DUMB Car 2.0, IBC's driving simulator. The simulator shows drivers the dangers of distractions, including talking on a cellphone and text messaging. The DUMB Car 2.0 also allows drivers to practice other skills, such as driving in adverse weather, 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 is proud to have been a leader in the fight against distracted driving, having launched our campaign back in 2007," said Palumbo. "Since then, the issue has really caught on, and we've seen many other campaigns launched, including those by Oprah Winfrey and the United Nations."

He added: "Here in Canada, most provinces have introduced legislation banning the use of hand-held cellphones or electronic devices while driving. But we want to remind drivers that 'hands-free' doesn't mean '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. And the problem is not just cellphones - there are a whole host of distractions vying for our attention behind the wheel."

The tour also shows homeowners how to protect their property and make their homes more resilient to the increased severe weather that has become the norm. Tour displays highlight relatively easy techniques that Canadians can employ to protect their homes, including changing the grading around the house, or installing backflow valves in the basement.

In the coming weeks, the Be Smart. Be Safe. Tour will travel to events in Brooklin, Orangeville, Unionville, Wingham, Newmarket, Burlington and Windsor. 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. Ontario Tour, click on the link below. This footage is provided for the free and unrestricted use of media outlets.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GyFv9T7OF0E

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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