Wadena prevails in SGI's Seatbelt Challenge
November 27, 2009
The residents of Wadena have increased their own safety by buckling up, and now their community will get a safety boost as well.
Wadena has won SGI's 2009 Seatbelt Challenge in the Saskatoon Health Region and will receive up to $50,000 for traffic safety improvements in its community.
The 2009 edition of the Seatbelt Challenge pitted the communities of Wadena, Lanigan, Watrous and Wynyard against each other in a friendly competition to see which community could most improve its seatbelt use.
"This is a fun way to encourage people to buckle up, but we don't want participants or the public to lose sight of the seriousness of this problem, particularly in First Nations and rural communities" said Minister responsible for SGI June Draude.
In 2008 alone, 58 per cent of fatalities on rural roads and 67 per cent of fatalities on First Nations roads involved unbelted occupants. In other years as much as 100 per cent of fatalities on First Nations roads involved unbelted occupants.
"Reducing these numbers by increasing the use of seatbelts and child occupant restraints is a key component of SGI's comprehensive traffic safety strategy. Seatbelts save lives and cut the risk of death or injury in half," added Draude.
Two roadside surveys - the first in May and the second in September - were conducted in each community to measure its respective seatbelt use. The results were then used to determine the community that had the highest percentage gain in usage between surveys.
Wadena increased its seatbelt use by 59 per cent. The second place finisher, Lanigan, increased use by 14 per cent. The other two participants, Wynyard and Watrous, increased their seatbelt use by 11 per cent and 10 per cent, respectively.
"It's absolutely wonderful to see that every single community increased its seatbelt use," said Draude. "That's the true success of the Seatbelt Challenge."
In addition to the cash prize, smaller rewards were handed out throughout the challenge to people spotted wearing their seatbelt.
The Seatbelt Challenge is a community-driven project designed to improve seatbelt use in rural Saskatchewan. SGI partners with health regions, First Nations, municipalities, law enforcement agencies, fire departments, emergency medical service providers and student organizations in participating communities to conduct the challenge.
Communities from the File Hills Qu'Appelle Tribal Council also competed in the 2009 Seatbelt Challenge. The winner, Muscowpetung First Nation, was announced last week in Fort Qu'Appelle.
This is the second year that the Seatbelt Challenge has been held. Last year communities from the Heartland Health Region and Prairie North Health Region participated, all increasing their seatbelt use.