Rural, urban Manitobans break different driving laws: survey

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Rural drivers don’t buckle up as much as their urban cousins, but Winnipeg drivers use their cell phones more often when behind the wheel.

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Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 08/02/2022 (234 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

Rural drivers don’t buckle up as much as their urban cousins, but Winnipeg drivers use their cell phones more often when behind the wheel.

Those are the conclusions of a road safety observation study carried out last fall by a company hired by Manitoba Public Insurance.

MPI spokesman Brian Smiley said the study observed 5,500 vehicles in Winnipeg and the capital region and 23,000 vehicles in communities with populations of 1,000 or greater. It found that 10 per cent of drivers in rural areas don’t wear seatbelts compared to just three per cent in Winnipeg.

PAUL CHIASSON / THE CANADIAN PRESS FILES Cell phone use while driving is more prevalent among younger drivers and is highest in areas with traffic lights, the new study revealed.

“A seatbelt has been required for many, many decades,” said Smiley on Tuesday. “I assume the majority of drivers know it is against the law to drive without using a seatbelt.

“Seatbelts keep people in the vehicle. It prevents them from going through a windshield and prevents them from being ejected and having the vehicle roll over on them… not using a seatbelt means you are 50 times more likely to be killed.”

The Interlake and the Parkland were the worst offenders during the survey period, Smiley said. Sixteen per cent of drivers observed in the Interlake failed to wear a seatbelt, while 14 per cent of Parkland drivers disobeyed the law.

Researchers stood at stop signs and intersections to observe whether a driver was wearing a seatbelt and whether they were using a phone.

Satvir Jatana, MPI’s chief customer officer, said the results of the study will be shared with the Manitoba Association of Chiefs of Police.

“The purpose of this study was to obtain current rates of risky driving behaviour across Manitoba, with a focus on use of hand-operated electronic devices and seatbelt use,” said Jatana in a statement.

“The findings of this study will be used as a benchmark to monitor behaviour change overtime and shared with the (chiefs) for the purpose of planning future enforcement and awareness campaigns.”

It also found seven per cent of drivers overall didn’t wear a seatbelt, while people who drive trucks were slightly less likely to buckle up compared to drivers of passenger cars, vans or SUVs.

Smiley said when it comes to illegal cell phone use while driving, 10 per cent of Winnipeg drivers have their cell phones up to their ears, something only three per cent of rural drivers do.

MIKAELA MACKENZIE / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS FILES MPI spokesman Brian Smiley said the new study found that 10 per cent of drivers in rural areas don’t wear seatbelts compared to just three per cent in Winnipeg.

Smiley said cell phone use while driving is more prevalent among younger drivers and is highest in areas with traffic lights.

“Their use also has some very serious consequences,” he said. “Driver distraction is linked to almost 50 per cent of fatalities and 37 per cent of all serious injuries. It also has a $672 fine and, for first-time offenders, a three-day driving suspension.”

Grant Wainikka, CEO of the Insurance Brokers Association of Manitoba, said in a statement “driving without a seatbelt is another example of dangerous driving that can ultimately lead to preventable accidents among our clients.

“Both non-seatbelt usage and distracted driving due to cell phones can lead to more severe accidents and, in the long term, higher premiums for Manitoba drivers. Safety needs to be the driver’s No. 1 priority when behind the wheel.”

kevin.rollason@freepress.mb.ca

Kevin Rollason

Kevin Rollason
Reporter

Kevin Rollason is one of the more versatile reporters at the Winnipeg Free Press. Whether it is covering city hall, the law courts, or general reporting, Rollason can be counted on to not only answer the 5 Ws — Who, What, When, Where and Why — but to do it in an interesting and accessible way for readers.

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