It’s been a deadly year on Manitoba roads, and there are still three months left in 2020.
The latest fatal collision happened Tuesday night on the Perimeter Highway between Henderson Highway and Main Street. A 78-year-old man died, and a 21-year-old man was injured.
RCMP said the 78-year-old was driving the wrong way on the highway, when he collided head-on with another vehicle. Both vehicles were then hit by a semi-trailer.
This collision is under investigation.
This crash is the latest in a number of fatal collisions this year, which have resulted in the deaths of 76 Manitobans.
“So far, the trend is higher than our five-year average. I’m hoping we’re not on pace to eclipse some of these totals we’ve seen in the few years past,” said Sgt. Paul Manaigre with the Manitoba RCMP.
Over the last five years in Manitoba, between January and the first week of October, there were on average 57 fatal collisions resulting in 62 deaths.
So far this year, we’ve seen 68 fatal crashes with 76 deaths. Compared to the same time frame in 2019, there were 55 deadly collisions and 59 deaths.
The entire 2019 year recorded 80 fatal collisions and 89 deaths.
In the last five years, 2016 was the deadliest, with 104 fatal collisions and 115 deaths.
As for why we may be seeing an increase in deadly crashes this year, Manaigre said it could be related in part to the change in routines brought on by the pandemic, with some Manitobans driving in areas they aren’t familiar with.
However, Manaigre notes many fatal collisions are related to the “big four,” also known as speeding, driving while under the influence, using a cellphone while driving, and not wearing a seatbelt.
“There’s more and more people out there, so if you take that percentage of those that are going to take these high-risk behaviours when they get behind the wheel, that means your numbers are increasing for all factors,” said Manaigre.
A number of deadly crashes this year have also involved motorcyclists, with numbers doubling compared to other years.
The Coalition of Manitoba Motorcycle Groups said on average, four motorcyclists are killed in the province each year. This year, eight have.
“It’s disheartening because many of these situations could have been avoided,” said Doug Houghton, the president of the coalition.
These collisions are tragic for the families involved, and also for the first responders who often have to deliver the bad news.
“That takes a toll on an officer, on a firefighter, on a paramedic,” said Manaigre. “You’d rather be doing something else. We want to be out there helping people, not cleaning up after collisions where it could have been prevented.”
The number of fatal collisions reported by the RCMP only include areas patrolled by the Mounties in Manitoba, which doesn’t include major cities, like Winnipeg.