Two men hurt in two separate crashes in Winnipeg on the weekend are both listed this morning in critical but stable condition, police say.
One crash occurred at 4 a.m. Sunday in the 200 block of Henderson Highway when a 19-year-old man lost control of his southbound vehicle, which slammed into a tree. The tree was sheared off by the impact and the vehicle flipped and came to rest on its roof in a northbound lane.
Part of Henderson Highway was closed to traffic for several hours Sunday as members of the central traffic unit investigated the crash.
On Saturday night, a 22-year-old man was taken to hospital after the Chevrolet Cobalt he was driving was struck by a Ford F-150 pickup truck at Polson Avenue and Airlies Street. His passenger, an 18-year-old man, sustained non-life-threatening injuries.
The driver of the pickup truck fled on foot, police said.
Meanwhile, police are urging motorists to heed warnings about the risks of dangerous driving following the severe crashes.
So far this year, 10 people have died on city streets following motor-vehicle collisions, according to police news releases. Last year, 12 people were killed following serious crashes on Winnipeg roads, police news releases show.
Winnipeg Police Service spokesman Const. Jason Michalyshen said it's frustrating that these types of incidents continue to occur despite public campaigns targeting high-risk driver behaviour such as speeding and distracted driving. Every day, officers see drivers texting, speeding or not wearing a seatbelt, all of which can put them and others at risk of a collision, he said.
Most people already know what they should do behind the wheel, but unfortunately, some individuals still make bad decisions, Michalyshen said. Operating a vehicle is a responsibility more drivers need to take seriously, he said.
"We want members of the public to realize a very small, very quick decision can be life-altering and not just to yourself," he said. "It could potentially impact people that are close to you, and we don't want to see that. We want people to think ahead, plan ahead."
Last year was a particularly deadly year on Manitoba highways, though statistics show the numbers have remained steady in 2012.
Since January, RCMP Sgt. Line Karpish said, 71 collisions have killed 78 people on provincial roads and highways, including a 90-year-old man who died following a crash on Highway 12 last week. During the same period last year, 89 people died following 77 serious crashes.
Karpish said police are puzzled about what more they can do to convince drivers high-risk behaviours can have serious consequences. RCMP stepped up their traffic enforcement over the Thanksgiving long weekend and, within one day, an officer in the Headingley detachment clocked three drivers at speeds upwards of 150 kilometres per hour, Karpish said. One driver was given a ticket for driving 184 km/h, she said.
The next day, Karpish said, officers responded to a two-vehicle collision on Roblin Boulevard near Breezy Bend Golf Course that sent two 22-year-old drivers to hospital. Alcohol was a factor in the crash.
"Our vehicle becomes a deadly weapon on the road if you choose to hop in there and drink and drive, stare at your cellphone or drive at speeds that are completely outrageous," Karpish said. "It's outrageous and it's dangerous."
Manitoba RCMP say slightly more than one-third of all fatal highway crashes in the province involve impaired driving, which is higher than the national average. Other common factors include high speeds and failing to wear a seatbelt, Karpish said, which can result in severe injuries if a person is ejected from a vehicle.
"Despite our campaigns, there's definitely a percentage of the population that continues to drink and drive, and unfortunately, there's a percentage not wearing their seatbelt. It's very concerning," Karpish said.