Community engagement a key factor to safer roads in Saskatoon

Click to play video: 'Community engagement a key factor to safer roads in Saskatoon' Community engagement a key factor to safer roads in Saskatoon
WATCH ABOVE: A new role in the community – Jan 6, 2020

After leading the traffic unit for two years, Staff Sgt. Patrick Barbar is starting a new position with the Saskatoon Police Service (SPS) in the criminal investigation unit.

Barbar has been involved with SPS traffic safety for over 10 years and has seen positive trends. In 2018, the traffic unit saw only one fatality. In 2019, it increased to four, which is still a significant drop from the average of eight or nine fatalities a year.

READ MORE: Impaired driving focus of police heading into 2020: SGI

Barbar believes increased community engagement is a significant factor leading to safer roads in Saskatoon.

It started with gaining more of an audience on Twitter. Followers were interested in “Traffic Tip Tuesdays” and hearing about some of the crazy offences and charges the traffic unit witnessed.

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“We actually grew our follower-ship four or five times over what it was when I first started,” Barbar said.

“We engaged with the community quite a bit.”

READ MORE: Monthly record set in Saskatchewan for distracted driving tickets

Barbar also attributes strong legislation and better enforcement and education to the drop in fatalities over the past two years. The SPS traffic unit worked closely with Saskatchewan Government Insurance (SGI) on numerous initiatives, including distracted driving enforcement and check stop demonstrations.

SGI spokesperson Tyler McMurchy said Barbar’s passion for traffic safety and his ability to think outside the box will leave a lasting impact in Saskatoon.

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Barbar was engaging when teaching things people may have felt like they already knew, McMurchy said. He informed the public more on impaired driving, seat-belt safety, speeding and distracted driving.

“This is not necessarily new messaging, but he would always find new ways to deliver it,” McMurchy added.

Staff Sgt. Nolan Berg is the new head of the SPS traffic unit. He comes with nearly 20 years of policing experience and just completed a year-long peacekeeping mission in Iraq.

READ MORE: Saskatoon officer returns from Iraqi police training mission

Barbar said continuing community engagement will be key as Berg gets started with the traffic unit.

“He’ll need to continue these programs and continue innovating,” Barbar said.

“It’s one of these things where you have to find ways to keep the public’s interest in order to get your message out there.”

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