Buckle up: RCMP, MPI say many Manitoba drivers still not using seatbelts

While cracking down on distracted driving has been a priority for police both in Winnipeg and rural Manitoba over the past few years, there’s another dangerous driving activity that still persists in 2019.

RCMP Sgt. Paul Manaigre told 680 CJOB Thursday that 60 per cent of people killed in passenger vehicles in 2018 weren’t wearing seatbelts.

“We conduct observational surveys each year, which have shown that close to 95 per cent of rural Manitobans buckle up,” he said.

“While this sounds good, if we consider that over 10,000 vehicles are travelling on Highway 59 north of Winnipeg every day, we know that roughly 500 of those drivers are unbuckled.”

Manaigre said around 11-1200 people are charged in Manitoba each year for not wearing a seatbelt – which is higher than the number for texting or using an electronic device while driving, at 900-1,000.

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Manitoba Public Insurance spokesman Brian Smiley told 680 CJOB the otherwise baffling practice of driving without a seatbelt makes sense when you consider that many of the drivers in question tend to be partaking in other dangerous activities at the same time.

“Oftentimes, people who don’t do up their seatbelts are also involved in other activities, meaning they are perhaps intoxicated by drugs or alcohol, or typically speeding and not doing their seatbelts up as a result of very poor decision making.”

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Smiley said changing driver behaviour takes a long time, and requires a combination of education and awareness on MPI’s end, along with law enforcement making up the third piece of the puzzle.

“That law enforcement component is very key to having drivers change their behaviour.”

The $300 fine, plus two demerits, he said, is a strong motivator for drivers to obey the law, even if their personal safety isn’t a priority.

“Not wearing a seatbelt,” he said, “is almost a ticket to a serious injury or a fatality.”

© 2019 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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