Getting the message out turn by turn
No matter how many safety precautions and preparations you have in place, accidents are bound to happen — that’s why they are called accidents. They occur out-of-the blue and without warning.
However, Gander’s Janet Brake has taken it upon herself to try and reduce the risk to the spectators of a unique North American motorsport that occurs each September in eastern and central Newfoundland — Targa Newfoundland.
A 10-year Targa Newfoundland volunteer, Brake spent the past five years co-ordinating the operations of the Gander stage for the 2,200-kilometre race, and driver and spectator safety was always first-and-foremost in her mind for those involved in her stage of the eight-day event.
This train of thought changed drastically last year following a spectator being injured in Fortune when one of the competitor’s vehicles left the road and went onto a residential property. It was reported a 67-year-old woman suf- fered a broken leg and pelvis, as well as cuts to her face.
It was the first spectator injury in the 10-year history of Targa Newfoundland, but it was enough to set off warning alarms for Brake that more needed to be done to better ensure spectator safety heading into its 11th year.
“Safety has always been a major focus (of Targa Newfoundland), but I’m not sure that after so many years without an incident that spectators haven’t become complacent with the safety precautions we (Targa Newfoundland) have in place,” said Brake. “With this in mind, and after wha t h a p pene d i n For tune , I approached Targa Newfoundland and said I want to educate spectators on how to spectate safely.”
She started immediately putting a plan together, and for the past three months has spent a considerable amount of time travelling the Targa Newfoundland route promoting spectator safety in a number of different ways.
“The campaign is really a message for spectators to choose wisely when choosing a site to watch this great motorsport, and to understand the meaning of th e dif ferent coloured tape used to mark areas of concern along the route,” she said, adding she also developed six safety tips for spectators to follow (see Spectator Safety Tips box).
“I’ve been trying to get this out anyway I can to make sure as many spectators as possible know these tips and understand the tape regulations.” Brake said, while the safety campaign should get the message to more spectators than in the past, spectator safety is a team affair.
“Getting the message out is certainly important, but spectators, themselves, need to be proactive in their own and others safety,” she said, noting that if a spectator sees someone in an area of concern they should inform that person or one of the trained safety marshalls who will be located at various sites through each of the stages.
“The marshalls also need to make it their priority to ensure spectators safety, and spectators need to respect and
COLOUR CODED – Targa volunteers, from left, Christine King, Janet Brake and Trace LeDrew.
listen to the safety marshalls. These people are critical to the safety and success of the event, as they are the ones with local knowledge, and knowledge is key.
“It all comes down to working together, because all we really want is everyone to enjoy this amazing event in a safe manner.”