After declaring 2017 one of the safest years for road fatalities in 35 years, Manitoba Public Insurance reported today that a total of nine fatalities were reported last month, making February 2018 the second worst February for road deaths in two decades.
When added to the four deaths recorded in January, the total number of road fatalities in the first two months of 2018 is nearly three times higher than in the same period last year and twice as high as the preceding five year average.
“The number of fatalities on Manitoba roadways last month should be a wake-up call to all drivers, particularly with several weeks of winter weather and road conditions still ahead of us,” said Ward Keith, vice-president, Business Development and Communications, CAO, Manitoba Public Insurance.
“Winter driving can be a challenge for the best of drivers but when combined with high-risk driving behaviours, the outcomes can be tragic.”
Although the full analysis of February fatal crashes is still in progress, preliminary data shows almost half of these crashes involved impaired driving and nearly two in three involved not wearing seatbelts. In two thirds of the crashes, speed is also suspected as a contributing factor, including driving too fast for road and weather conditions.
“As we focus on making 2018 a safer year for collisions on Manitoba roadways, it is essential that all drivers take personal responsibility for their own safety and the safety of other road users,” said Keith. “Together we need to change the conversation about traffic safety and create a culture where even one fatality or serious injury is considered one too many. And that change needs to start now.”
Safety tips that could save a life
1. Have a plan before you head out for an evening of partying – especially if you expect to be drinking or consuming drugs. Hire a cab, or vehicle for hire, or have a designated driver selected beforehand.
2. If you must text or answer the phone, pull your vehicle over to a safe area. Texting while driving takes your eyes off the road and significantly increases the chance of being involved in a collision.
3. Never get into a vehicle with a driver who has been drinking or consuming drugs. It could be the last thing you do.
4. Speed kills. Be aware of the posted speed limit and drive to road and weather conditions.
5. Buckle up – every time. Whether you’re a driver or passenger, and no matter how short your trip is. It takes one second and could very well save your life.
6. With another winter storm predicted to hit Manitoba this coming weekend, all motorists are encouraged to drive defensively, leave plenty of room between vehicles, keep windshields clear and drive to conditions. Road closures due to weather should also be observed as they are intended to keep road users safe.