Dedicated gravel road enforcement project highly successful: RCMP and Manitoba Public Insurance

Road safety has been dramatically enhanced on many Manitoba gravel roads, thanks to a highly successful, on-going RCMP enforcement campaign funded in part by Manitoba Public Insurance.

The dedicated gravel road enforcement project, which was launched in the spring of 2017, has resulted in more than 1,000 charges for speeding, impaired driving, failure to use seatbelts, failing to stop at intersections, open alcohol, and operating unregistered vehicles, among other offences.

“Our data was showing a growing road safety concern on rural gravel roads, for which additional road safety education and supporting police enforcement was required,” said Ward Keith, vice-president, Business Development & Communications, Manitoba Public Insurance.

“On average, 14 people are killed and nearly 500 people injured in crashes on gravel roads in Manitoba annually,” said Keith. “Nearly 40 per cent of fatal crashes involve impaired driving with another 20 per cent attributed to speed. Non-use of seat belts is also a problem, likely because gravel roads are typically less traveled and therefore more of a challenge for police to enforce.”

There are about 3,200 crashes reported annually on gravel roads based on Manitoba Public Insurance data.

In efforts to reduce those numbers and heighten road safety awareness, Manitoba Public Insurance and the RCMP partnered in the joint public awareness and enforcement campaign specific to gravel roads.

“Gravel roads and rural communities are not immune to collisions and resulting fatalities,” said Chief Superintendent Mark Fisher, Officer in Charge of Criminal Operations for the RCMP in Manitoba.

“Some people take the ‘back roads’ to avoid running into the police, but the police are there. Regardless if you are driving on a gravel road, an urban street or the Trans-Canada Highway, the laws are the same. Hopefully our increased presence on gravel roads will encourage drivers to slow down, buckle up, pay attention to the road, and drive sober.”

High School Driver Education

To complement the joint awareness and enforcement program, Manitoba Public Insurance has expanded the High School Driver Education program curriculum to include gravel road driving skills as a mandatory component of in-class and in-car training for all new teen drivers in the program.

“Learning how to safely operate a vehicle on gravel roads at highway speeds is an important skill for all new teen drivers in Manitoba, regardless of where they live,” said Keith. “Depending on road and weather conditions, even small steering wheel movements can result in loss of vehicle control and potential vehicle rollover. This is why practical, behind-the-wheel experience under the supervision of a professional driving instructor is so important.”

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