Car crashes increase when health restrictions loosen: MPI

Crash

Manitoba Public Insurance (MPI) is urging drivers to be careful, as data shows a link between lifting COVID-19 health orders and the number of serious collisions in the province.

According to MPI, the number of deaths and serious injuries from car crashes spiked during the months public health orders were loosened between the first and second waves.

Data from the Crown corporation said 29 people were killed on public roadways in August and September 2020, a 79 per cent increase compared to the previous five-year (2015-2019) average of 16 fatalities during these two months.

In the same time frame, the number of people killed in collisions where distracted driving was a factor quadrupled to 20 when compared to the previous five-year average.

MPI's data also showed the number of people killed while not wearing a seatbelt more than doubled in August and September of 2020, with eight people dying.

"MPI has shared this data with police agencies throughout our province and they indicated they are prepared to address this potential increase in high-risk driving behaviour in a proactive manner. But all road users have a role to play in ensuring our highways and streets are safe," said Satvir Jatana, MPI's chief customer officer, in a news release.

"While we are all looking forward to getting back to regular summer activities with friends and family, we can't forget about road safety. The increases in deaths and serious injuries we saw last summer can be avoided if we all commit to making better choices behind the wheel."

MPI also noted serious speeding (50 km/h or more over the limit) saw a sharp increase in 2020.

The Crown corporation said more than 500 speed-related serious offence notices were forwarded to MPI from law enforcement, a 60 per cent increase from the previous year.

SUMMER ROAD SAFETY TIPS  

According to MPI, most serious collisions on Manitoba roads are caused by high-risk driving behaviours, like impaired driving, speeding, and distracting driving.

MPI says to follow these road safety tips this season, whether you're headed to the cottage, a bonfire, or the beach:

  • Don't drive impaired. Both drugs and alcohol can affect a person's ability to drive. On average, 25 people in Manitoba are killed yearly due to impaired driving.
  • Buckle up! A person is nearly 50 times more likely to be killed and four times more likely to be seriously injured when not wearing a seatbelt.
  • Don't text and drive. On average, 28 people are killed yearly in Manitoba in a distracted driving collision.
  • Drive within the posted speed limit or to weather conditions. On average, 20 people are killed yearly in Manitoba in a speed-related collision. (Source: MPI)

"We encourage all Manitobans to focus on road safety this summer, which means not driving while impaired by drugs or alcohol, keeping speeds within the posted limits, and putting down our phones so our attention is on the road at all times,” Jatana said.

"After such a challenging year and a half, we all have the direct ability to help save lives this season through these simple actions."