Residents of Keeseekoose First Nation know seatbelts save lives, and now their dedication to buckling up is paying off.
As the winner of SGI’s 2011 Seatbelt Challenge, Keeseekoose First Nation will receive up to $50,000 for traffic safety improvements in their community.
The Seatbelt Challenge saw Keeseekoose First Nation, Cote First Nation and Fishing Lake First Nation engaged in a friendly competition to see which community could most improve its seatbelt use.
“Unfortunately, seatbelt use is lower in rural and First Nation communities,” said Shannon Ell, Manager of Traffic Safety Promotion at SGI. “The Seatbelt Challenge helps get the message out that wearing a seatbelt every time you get into a vehicle cuts your risk of being killed or injured in a crash in half.”
In 2010, 50 per cent of fatalities on rural roads and 62.5 per cent of fatalities on First Nation roads in Saskatchewan involved unbelted occupants, compared to 16.5 per cent on urban streets.
To measure seatbelt use, two roadside surveys were conducted in each community – one before the challenge kicked off in June to establish a baseline and the other after the challenge ended in September. The results determined the community that had the greatest percentage of gain towards the goal of 100 per cent seatbelt use.
Keeseekoose First Nation covered 80 per cent of their available gain, bringing their seatbelt use rate from 66 per cent pre-challenge to 93 per cent post-challenge.
“Each of these First Nations showed their commitment to improving road safety in their community by helping keep seatbelt use top of mind, and that makes them all winners,” said Ell.
In addition to the grand prize of up to $50,000 for the winning community, smaller rewards were handed out throughout the challenge to people spotted wearing their seatbelt.
The communities of Grenfell, Kipling and Whitewood also participated in a Seatbelt Challenge this year, with the winner to be announced next week.
About the SGI Seatbelt Challenge
The SGI Seatbelt Challenge is a ongoing community-driven project designed to improve seatbelt use in rural Saskatchewan. The challenge encourages people to buckle up by offering rewards to those spotted wearing their seatbelt. SGI partners with First Nations, municipalities, law enforcement agencies, fire departments, emergency medical service providers and student organizations in participating communities to conduct the challenge. Currently in its fourth year, all but two of the 37 participating communities have seen an increase in seatbelt use during the challenge.