Thousands of impaired drivers taken off roads thanks to RoadWatch: Manitoba Public Insurance

Over the last eight years, nearly 2,000 impaired drivers have been taken off the road thanks to the Manitoba Public Insurance sponsored RoadWatch program.

Now in its 20th year, RoadWatch begins this Victoria Day weekend and will continue until November. The program supplements existing police enforcement efforts and will result in enhanced police presence on Manitoba streets and highways, particularly on holiday weekends. In total, nine police agencies will participate, including the RCMP and police services in Winnipeg, Brandon, Morden, Winkler, Altona, Dakota, Rivers and Ste. Anne.

“Everyone who uses our roadways has a right to expect they will arrive at their destination safely,” said Ward Keith, vice-president, Business Development & Communications, Manitoba Public Insurance. “High-visibility roadside check stops, when combined with public awareness and education, send a strong message that illegal and high-risk driving behaviours such as impaired driving, speeding, distracted driving and non-use of seatbelts will not be tolerated.

“These behaviours continue to be major contributing factors in collisions, which not only drive up auto insurance costs, but can also result in unnecessary and preventable loss of life and serious injuries,” added Keith.

In 2016, impaired driving was determined to be a contributing factor in nearly 36 per cent of all fatal collisions, while speed and distracted driving were factors in nearly 30 per cent of fatalities reported. Non-use of seat belts also continues to be a major factor in fatalities involving drivers and passengers.

From 2010-2017, more than 480,000 vehicles were screened by participating law enforcement agencies. In addition to removing nearly 2,000 impaired drivers from the road and reinforcing road safety messaging against impaired driving to countless others who encountered a check stop, more than 16,000 Highway Traffic Act offence notices were also issued for offences ranging from speeding to texting while driving to driving on a suspended licence or without proper vehicle insurance.

With road safety at the forefront, the launch of this year’s RoadWatch aligns with Canada Road Safety Week, a national weeklong effort to raise awareness about safe driving habits that runs from May 15-21.

Watching for high-risk driving behaviour and keeping impaired drivers off Manitoba roads is also a priority of law enforcement.

“As police officers, we far too often see the consequences of the choice to drive impaired – they are horrific, and they are tragic,” said RCMP Assistant Commissioner Scott Kolody, President of the Manitoba Association of Chiefs of Police. “The RoadWatch program is a valuable tool for us in helping get impaired drivers off the road. One impaired driver is one too many. The devastation that one driver can cause is immense.”

Who is driving impaired?

  • Young males make up the majority of those involved in impaired collisions.
  • Males account for three-quarters of impaired drivers involved in crashes.
  • Drivers under age 35 (all genders) account for nearly two-thirds of impaired drivers involved in crashes.
  • Drivers under the age of 35 have a rate of involvement in impaired driving crashes that is more than four times that of drivers age 35 and older.
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