Insurers and law enforcement professionals agree that motorists need to buckle their seat belts and hang up their phones while behind the wheel.
But, despite years of consistent messaging, not everyone is on board.
Drivers in rural Manitoba are more likely to drive without seatbelts, while motorists in Winnipeg are more prone to using electronic communications devices (ECDs) while driving, says newly released data from Manitoba Public Insurance (MPI).
The road safety observation study commissioned last fall by MPI finds the two worst regions for failure to use seatbelts are Interlake (16%) and Parkland (14%).
Overall, 10% of drivers in rural areas were observed not wearing seatbelts, compared to 7% provincewide. Gender and age group are not factors in seatbelt use but those driving trucks are slightly less likely to buckle up compared to those in cars, SUVs and vans.
Winnipegers are most likely to use ECDs while driving (10%), compared to 3% in rural areas. Provincewide, 7% of drivers use ECDs while behind the wheel but the percentage is higher in areas with traffic lights and among younger drivers.
Satvir Jatana, MPI’s chief customer officer, says the findings “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 conducted the study in morning and afternoon hours during September and observed nearly 29,000 vehicles in 46 towns and cities with populations of at least 1,000.
Meanwhile, provincewide data from MPI in 2020 found that when drivers don’t wear seatbelts, 54% of passengers don’t wear one either. Further, it found distracted driving is a leading contributor to half of all fatal crashes and that driver distraction is a key factor in 37% of serious injuries.