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Eye on Safety: MPI releases observation report on rural, urban distracted driving habits

Winnipeg, Manitoba — Wearing a seatbelt on Canadian roads has been mandatory for the past 46 years and yet it’s still a tough habit to get into for some, as Manitoba Public Insurance released the results of a study that observed 10 percent of rural drivers not buckled up behind the wheel.

MPI specified that the Interlake and Parkland regions were the worst offenders for driving without a seatbelt, with 16 and 14 percent of drivers being caught in the act respectively.

By contrast, only three percent of drivers in the Winnipeg area were observed driving without a seatbelt on.

Use of electronic devices while driving appears to be the urban affliction, however, as the study found the numbers to be reversed, with 10 percent of Winnipeg drivers being observed on the phone versus three percent in rural areas.

“The purpose of this study was to obtain current rates of risky driving behaviour across Manitoba, with a focus on use of hand-operated electronic devices and seatbelt use,” said MPI chief customer officer Satvir Jatana.

“The findings of this study will be used as a benchmark to monitor behaviour change over time, and shared with the Manitoba Association of Chiefs of Police for the purpose of planning future enforcement and awareness campaigns.”

MPI says distracted driving is a leading contributor to fatal crashes in Manitoba and was linked to 50 percent of traffic fatalities in 2020.

The use of a handheld electronic device and failure to wear a seatbelt while driving come with fines of $672 and $200, respectively, in Manitoba.

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