Safety comes first
Labatt brewery offers safe snowmobiling award

by Cheryl Leschasin
Northern News Services

NNSL (Mar 17/97) - Labatt Breweries announced late last month they will be promoting a "Safe Trails" award in conjunction with the NWT Snowmobile Association.

The award is designed to recognize individuals who have made an extraordinary effort to promote snowmobile safety and zero tolerance to drinking and riding in the NWT.

To participate, snowmobilers are asked to submit a story about riders who have "gone the extra mile" to promote safe snowmobiling in the NWT.

Efforts to promote sober riding as well as trail development, protecting the environment or providing assistance to riders in need are examples of what adjudicators are looking for.

The winner of the safe trails award will receive a Ski-Doo Snogear snowmobile suit and helmet.

The winner will also qualify for the Labatt National Safe Trails award. The national winner will receive a new Ski-Doo MXZ 440F snowmobile.

Roy Smith, sales and promotion manager for Labatt Breweries, said in a press release, "We want to remind people to use our products responsibly because safe snowmobiling requires a rider's full and unimpaired attention."

Reg Taylor, president of the NWT Snowmobile Association, has no problem with a brewery promoting an award.

"The Labatt Safe Trails award reinforces critical safety practices. Through this unique partnership with Labatt we can remind snowmobilers never to drink and ride," said Taylor.

Snowmobile association member Mike Vandahl of Fort Providence said he thinks it's strange that a brewery would sponsor an award for snowmobiling, but has no real objections.

In fact, Vandahl said there are a few snowmobilers around town he thinks could be nominated for the award for successful search and rescues.

Vandahl is concerned there is a problem with snowmobilers drinking and riding. "When the guys get out there, that's what they do. It's good that Labatt is taking a stand against it and being a responsible corporation."

Shawn Greenwood of the Iqaluit snowmobile club echoes Vandahl's sentiments. "Ironically, most snowmobile deaths are caused by over-drinking. As a responsible business, they have taken the initiative to promote safety and responsible drinking."

Labatt has maintained a highly visible commitment to responsible use of alcohol. In 1981, it was the first company in the industry to campaign against drinking and driving.

In the Safe Trails award information package, Labatt includes a list of snowmobile safety tips.

Heading the list is the warning: "Don't drink and ride. Alcohol, drugs or fatigue impairs your senses, slows your reaction time and makes it harder to stay warm."

Entries can be made by sending a detailed description of their nominee's contribution to snowmobiling safety, including name, address and phone number by March 31 to: 1997 Labatt Safe Trails awards, 160 Bloor St. E., Suite 500, Toronto, ON, M4W 1B9. Nominees must be of legal drinking age.