ON any given day, Marshall Adams sees it all.

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This article was published 13/9/2011 (3664 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

ON any given day, Marshall Adams sees it all.

The courier driver says he regularly sees motorists speed up right after they've slowed for red-light cameras, talk on cell phones, eat, shave, and put on makeup while driving.

"City roads are brutal," he said Tuesday night, adding he regularly sees people swerve and nearly crash due to potholes. "I've seen so many near misses and near-accidents."

Adams was part of a crowd of Winnipeggers who listened to provincial parties debate the state and future of provincial roadways at the Winnipeg Free Press News Cafe on Tuesday night. It's the first time road safety and the state of Winnipeg's and Manitoba's bumpy, pothole-laden roads have been raised during the election campaign.

In the last 18 months, 31 people have died on Winnipeg streets, and more than half of all crashes involve cyclists or pedestrians.

CAA Manitoba helped co-ordinate the event and CEO Mike Mager said the condition of roadways has an impact on safety, noting cars sometimes swerve to avoid problems such as potholes.

"You know you're in Manitoba because your car starts to rattle," he said.

While insurance companies in other North American jurisdictions invest money in improving roads and intersections to reduce collisions, none of the three parties supports expanding the role of Manitoba Public Insurance. However, they did support increased investment in roads and highways and doing more to enforce the existing laws that ban things such as texting and driving and drinking and driving.

NDP Family Services Minister Gord Mackintosh said the province will continue to bolster spending on roads and highway renewal, and has committed to giving municipalities one per cent of the existing PST for municipal infrastructure. He said the province has committed to hiring more police officers and more prosecutors, noting officers are currently issuing tickets to texting scofflaws while riding bicycles.

Tory justice critic Kelvin Goertzen said he believes the real issue with distracted driving is convincing motorists they can be caught. He said his party wants to beef up the number of traffic officers who can crack down and enforce the law. If elected, he said the Tories will review the province's books and cut waste to find more money to spend on roads and highways.

Eric Stewart, Liberal candidate for Wolseley, said the party wants to tackle the infrastructure deficit with research and innovation and investigate why other provinces seem to have fewer problems with things such as potholes.

jen.skerritt@freepress.mb.ca