By Adam Eisenbarth
As thousands walked throughout the Ponoka Stampede grounds last week they were offered a great opportunity that could help improve their safety and peace of mind.
The Be Smart Be Safe booth was set up by the Insurance Bureau of Canada (IBC) as part of its effort to better educate the public on safety.
Four exhibits were on display, but the favourite seemed to be the Distractions Undermining Motorists Behavior Car, better known as the DUMB Car.
“A big part of what we’re doing is trying to see how people drive while distracted. Obviously it’s not a real car but we set it up like a real car and for all intents and purposes we have people treat it like that,” said student ambassador Graham Taylor.
From the seat belt to the adjustable seats and three computer monitors, the car is a realistic way to show drivers the issues that can occur when they are distracted.
“The computer that runs the machine keeps a tally of all the things that are going wrong in the process. It’s a really good learning tool as well as it chastises bad driving habits and also rewards good ones. We give a prize to everyone that participates.”
The Be Safe Be Smart team gets participants to perform a number of tasks, from talking on their cell phone, to writing notes and finding a CD in a case, all while trying to navigate their way down the virtual highway.
The focus of the display wasn’t just about driving safety, however. The team was there to educate participants on safety in the house with the Hazard House, a miniature house that displayed a number of safety issues.
Participants also were quizzed on the 10 items they should have in their home as recommended by Public Canada Safety.
“It’s all designed to hold you up in your house for 72 hours,” Taylor said.
The list includes water, food, a can opener, flashlight, radio, extra keys, prescription medicine if needed, first aid kit, cash, and something Taylor notes most families don’t have: an emergency plan.
“An emergency plan can be a lot of things. It could be a meeting place, emergency contacts, phone numbers and addresses that you need to contact, talk to, places you need to go in case of emergency.”
Taylor was pleased with the number of people that stopped by for a look and says the stampede grounds are a perfect venue for the setup.
“Safety is for everybody. It doesn’t matter if you’re a cowboy or a city slicker, everybody needs to learn the messages of safety.”
Participants received prizes for their interest and Taylor says typically people walk away with some sort of safety message to remember, thanks to the various exhibits.
“I think they’re wonderfully effective tools. (For example) we’ll find people that were here today and they’ll come back tomorrow and tell us they’ve put (an emergency plan) together and talked with their family.
You may see the exhibits again as the team tours throughout Alberta to various events to deliver their message of safety.