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Apr 19, 2024

3 min. read

Image courtesy of PavelS(iStock)

CAA is about people. The fact that a CAA Membership follows the person and not a designated vehicle should tell you that. And advocating for Member safety is one of CAA’s primary objectives. Teresa Di Felice, assistant vice president of government and community relations, offers some insight into how CAA works with its Membership, the government and other stakeholders to effect positive change.

How does advocacy fit into the mission of CAA? Most people aren’t aware that advocacy is how CAA started in 1913. It actually began with a few car enthusiasts, back when cars weren’t as prevalent on our roads. But there was a recognition that this was the technology of the future and that cars actually served the potential for some great purposes, like connecting communities. So, advocacy back then was about how to coexist on the roads with other forms of transportation— like bicycles, horses, trolleys, transit vehicles. Today, it’s still about moving people safely.

So how did that play out in the early years and how does it look today? Among the first CAA advocacy services were the installing of road signs, launching the CAA School Safety Patrol® (SSP) program and advocating for the building of the Trans-Canada Highway. CAA is a membership organization, so the community aspect was very big. One of our most recognized community efforts is the SSP program. There’s a sense of ownership, not just at CAA, but also among the program partners. And for the kids on the ground who are actually involved, the program is a source of pride. I can’t tell you how many police officers have told us they used to be School Safety Patrollers.

How does CAA decide where to focus advocacy resources? We focus on two areas—one being community relations. The other is education and awareness around road safety issues that are critical to keeping our communities safe. These include distracted driving, impaired driving, speeding, stunt driving and sharing the road with cyclists. We’re also tracking current issues—such as electric vehicles and cannabis-impaired driving—to inform ourselves and our Members. And that speaks to the government relations side—working with government to create awareness and share what’s on the minds of CAA Members. We survey our Members quite a lot throughout the year. This can help inform public policy. We are deeply entrenched in the evolution of these issues to work towards solutions that help mitigate and resolve safety issues on our roads.

Visit caasco.com/advocacy to see how CAA is making an impact.