Distracted driving the focus of June traffic safety spotlight

(SGI/Submitted)

SGI is hoping real stories of lives lost to distracted driving will be enough to get residents to put down their phones.

As part of June’s traffic safety spotlight, SGI has launched a campaign with a succinct message: “Distracted driving kills”

The campaign features a 60-second video showing a young woman dreaming of her life and milestone moments. Those dreams are followed by a head-on collision caused by a distracted driver. The video closes with the photo of a real victim and a brief narration from her mother.

Kailynn Bursic-Panchuk was using her cellphone when she drove into the path of a train. The collision left the 17-year-old from Weyburn in critical condition.

“When we got to the hospital and the doctor told me Kailynn needed surgery to relieve the pressure on her brain, I was lost. This is supposed to happen in movies, not in real life,” said Kailynn’s mom, Sandra LaRose.

Five days later, Kailynn’s family made the difficult decision to take her off of life support.

The ad, featuring Kailynn’s story, will run online, in movie theatres and in television. The campaign will also see newspaper, radio and billboard advertising. In July, shorter, online videos will feature common distracted driving behaviours with matching radio spots running all year.

The campaign is available at sgi.sk.ca/distracted-driving-kills.

“Hopefully people will realize that phone call is not important, that notification is not important, that music is not important; it will wait,” said LaRose. “Life will still go on if you don’t take that call. It’s literally a split second – that’s all it takes. You have control over that object – put your phone away.”

Minister responsible for SGI Joe Hargrave also hopes the ads help encourage people to put their phones down.

“I hope this province-wide campaign will help make the consequences of distracted driving more real to people,” Hargrave said.

“I am grateful to Sandra for sharing her voice and her daughter’s tragic story, and hopeful it will encourage people to avoid all distractions while they drive, including their phones. There should never be another story like Kailynn’s.”

Distracted driving is a leading cause of collisions, injury and death on the province’s roads. In 2017, 26 people died and 953 were injured in distracted driving collisions in Saskatchewan.