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Bad habits on the road are driving us crazy

THINK that driver who just cut you off shouldn't be allowed behind the wheel? You're not alone.

According to a newly released Angus Reid public opinion survey, 27 per cent of Manitoban respondents said "most" or "all" drivers in their municipalities are "bad drivers." That tied us with Saskatchewan for the dubious title of the province with the highest rate of drivers giving a failing grade to those they share the road with.

So are we our own worst car critics, or are Manitobans indeed bad drivers?

Manitoba Public Insurance spokesman Brian Smiley said statistics don't necessarily indicate we're getting more reckless on the roadways.

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Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 19/7/2012 (1916 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

THINK that driver who just cut you off shouldn't be allowed behind the wheel? You're not alone.

According to a newly released Angus Reid public opinion survey, 27 per cent of Manitoban respondents said "most" or "all" drivers in their municipalities are "bad drivers." That tied us with Saskatchewan for the dubious title of the province with the highest rate of drivers giving a failing grade to those they share the road with.

So are we our own worst car critics, or are Manitobans indeed bad drivers?

Manitoba Public Insurance spokesman Brian Smiley said statistics don't necessarily indicate we're getting more reckless on the roadways.

According to the most recent MPI statistics, 2006 saw the highest number of collisions, with 31,738 recorded. The fewest — 26,578 collisions — were recorded in 2009.

Smiley said while there has recently been an increase in the number of drivers who have had their licences revoked, it doesn't necessarily mean Manitobans are becoming worse drivers.

"About five years ago, around 3,000 folks had their licences revoked for moving violations. As of 2010, it's bumping up to a little over 4,000. That doesn't necessarily mean that there are more bad drivers," Smiley said. "It's a combination of doing something wrong to be caught and also, there's increased law enforcement."

But Smiley said while the numbers don't necessarily point to a downward spiral, MPI is looking for ways to address some bad driving habits.

"When you use the words 'bad driver,' we're able to really focus on what that means. We call them drivers who practice high-risk behaviour, whether it be speeding, not wearing a seatbelt or drinking and driving," Smiley said. "We are trying to reduce collisions through a number of means: education, awareness and law enforcement."

Harold Tabin, who owns A Confidence Driving School and has been teaching Manitobans to drive for 23 years, agreed with the survey's findings. Bad habits and consequences that don't fit contribute to Manitoba's bad-driver reputation, he said.

"The discipline factor is not there like it used to be or should be," Tabin said. "We're not policing for those small things that eventually turn into big things. You got a person that's not stopping properly behind the stop line or doing a lane change in an intersection or a pedestrian corridor. They are little but they contribute to bigger problems."

The survey also found 90 per cent of respondents had observed a driver talking on a hand-held device, a disturbing trend that Liz Peters, a CAA spokeswoman, said they are well aware of.

"Certainly in terms of issues that are a No. 1 concern for drivers, it's cellphone use. For a long time it was impaired driving, and yes, that's still a worry. But hand-held devices are a major, major distraction for motorists," Peters said.

But the use of cellphones doesn't necessarily mean Manitobans are becoming worse drivers, she said.

"We don't necessarily have the data to confidently say that. Yes, there's a growing trend among distracted drivers, but we've also noticed a trend in safer cars," Peters said.

The survey was conducted in November 2011 and polled a representative sample of 1,001 adult Canadians. It also found 89 per cent of respondents agree there should be a federal regulation banning driving with a hand-held device and 87 per cent had witnessed a driver speeding.

katherine.dow@freepress.mb.ca

By the numbers

Number of collisions annually in Manitoba (there were 760,222 licensed active drivers as of 2010):

201027,172

200926,578

200827,092

200729,494

200631,738

— source: MPI

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