PEOPLE: When Karen Klein isn’t making Surrey’s roads safer, she’s helping at hospice

ICBC’s road safety co-ordinator for Surrey/White Rock and the lead for the provincial distracted driving campaigns is big on community

Karen Klein and “iluka” in a small park and by a ravine near her office in Newton.

NEWTON — In her small office at the ICBC Claim Centre on 68th Avenue, Karen Klein knows all about public perception.

She knows how difficult it was to sway perception about drinking and driving.

She knows that even after the advent of the breathalyzer, it took years and the constant retelling of accident and death stats for the message to begin sinking in.

And she knows she faces a similar battle going forward with distracted driving. The distracted driver is the second leading cause of car crash fatalities in B.C. – behind only speeding – and that mobile electronic devices are today’s most egregious distraction.

As ICBC’s road safety co-ordinator for Surrey/White Rock and the lead for the provincial distracted driving campaigns – currently in the midst of a March crackdown – Klein mobilizes multiple agencies such as the Surrey RCMP, the Fraser Valley Integrated Road Safety Unit, and various volunteers.

“My main goal is to get the road safety message out so that the risks and consequences of poor driving behaviour is understood,” she said. “We ultimately want to change behaviours, and this can’t be done overnight. We know it takes time and repetitive messaging.”

Klein is accustomed to taking on big challenges and routinely going way beyond the norm. Apart from her “regular” duties as the local road safety co-ordinator, she’s led the provincial “High Risk Driving Campaign” for the past five years.

Indeed, Klein’s been so good at what she does that she was officially recognized in 2014 when she won the Police and Business Partnership Award at the Surrey Board of Trade Police Officer of the Year event.

And just last week, on International Women’s Day, she was up for another trophy at the 2016 Surrey Women in Business Awards.

It was her second consecutive nomination in the Corporate/Leadership category, and her second consecutive near-miss – which is putting her in Susan Lucci territory – but that doesn’t faze Klein.

“I love it that I’m trying to make a difference in my own community,” says the classic overachiever, who lives in Surrey with husband Chris and their three-year-old son.

But Klein’s contributions also extend outside the professional world.

Between 2002 and 2005, she volunteered her public relations expertise with the Canadian Cancer Society on two of their more important initiatives – Cops for Cancer and Relay for Life – where she humbly says she “gained more from that experience than they did.”

More recently, Klein’s life has gone to the dogs. One dog in particular – her whippet named “iluka.”

Through an organization called BC Pets and Friends, Klein began visiting patients at Peace Arch Hospital. But her focus changed in late 2014, when she lost her father to cancer.

“My dad spent just a day and a half in the hospice (White Rock South Surrey Hospice) but it was an incredible experience. I felt I wanted to comfort others in their time of need.”

To that end Klein has since embarked on a stringent period of training through the hospice that would allow her, with iluka, to visit and comfort hospice residents. She expects to begin her new role in April.

Today, however, Klein leaves iluka behind and hits the road, along with various levels of law enforcement, for a one-day mega-blitz on distracted driving.

Stay tuned – we’ll report on that next week.

Just Posted

Teen stabbed at Surrey’s Unwin Park

17 year old was transported to hospital with non-life-threatening injuries

Vancouver Giants earn a weekend sweep against Everett

Langley-based hockey team plays its next game is at home on Friday, Sept. 28, against Seattle.

Proudly Surrey modifies child-care policy

Slate wants to use school board property for child-care spaces

Surrey school board wants to expand French Immersion program

District had to close program at Cougar Creek Elementary due to low enrolment

VIDEO: Scarecrow festival kicks off in Port Kells

Fourth-annual event will be on until Halloween

Environment Canada confirms Ottawa area hit by two tornadoes Friday

At one point more than 200,000 hydro customers were blacked out

Coaches, players on Alberta university rugby team buckle up for the Broncos

16 people died when Humboldt Broncos bus collided with a semi-truck in rural Saskatchewan

The Vatican ‘owes God an apology,’ activist says in letter to Pope Francis

Letter came after a report on sexual abuse of more than 1,000 children in six Pennsylvania dioceses

Newcomers vying to fill power void in Vancouver’s ‘weird’ election race: expert

A proliferation of new parties and independent candidates are crowding the Vancouver race

Lions earn stunning 35-32 OT win over Ticats

Epic comeback lifts B.C. past Hamilton in CFL thriller

Czarnik nets 3 as Flames dump Canucks 5-2

Calgary picks up exhibition win over Vancouver

Ottawa to name new ambassador for women, peace and security, Freeland says

Chrystia Freeland also confirmed Canada would spend about $25 million to fund number of initiatives

‘A little bright spot:’ Ottawa residents rescue dog trapped beneath rubble

Freelance journalist says rescue of a dog trapped under rubble was happy ending amid chaos in Ottawa

Most Read