Manitoba Public Insurance (MPI) has announced a new collaboration with the RCMP that will introduce a public awareness and enforcement campaign focusing on safety and awareness around gravel roads in Manitoba.
The partnership has been in operation since April and will be extended through the fall. The campaign aims to make drivers aware of the differences of driving on gravel roads and reduce collisions and fatalities. In a press release, MPI points out that nearly 500 people are injured in Manitoba each year and 14 killed while in vehicular incidents on gravel tracks.
As well as an awareness campaign, RCMP is also focusing on enforcing laws on gravel roads. The force has issued 190 speeding notices, 21 non-seatbelt notices, and 16 short-term roadside suspensions up to the end of July.
“Police presence on our roadways sends a strong road safety message to those drivers who may be inclined to exhibit high-risk driving behaviour,” suggested Cliff Cullen, Minister of Crown Services, in the release. “Through road safety partnerships such as this, the ultimate goal is to reduce fatal crashes and injuries, not only on major roadways but on secondary, less travelled gravel roads as well.”
Gravel road driving presents differences to asphalt, so MPI says it will include information about gravel roads in its new enhanced high school driver education program. These changes will be introduced in September:
“Driving on gravel roads can present unique challenges for all drivers, but particularly for new drivers who may not be accustomed to how even small steering wheel movements can result in loss of control,” said Ward Keith, vice president, business development and communications and chief administrative officer at MPI. “Enhancements to the high school driver education program will expose all new teen drivers to both in-class instruction and practical on-road training on how to properly control their vehicle on gravel, and the importance of driving to road and weather conditions.”
“The margin for error is razor thin when drivers make mistakes on a gravel surface,” Insp. Ed Moreland, officer in charge of the RCMP’s Traffic Services Unit, said in the release. “Much like ice, failure to adjust to conditions can have dire consequences.”
MPI issued the following safety tips for gravel road driving:
- Ensure that all vehicle occupants are properly restrained with seatbelts or child occupant restraints. People not using seatbelts are 26 times more likely to be killed and two times more likely to be seriously injured in a collision than people using their seatbelts, MPI reported;
- Slow down when moving from a paved to gravel road. Ensure control and know how the vehicle handles on the new surface;
- Avoid any sudden changes in direction. Swerving can be particularly dangerous and may cause the vehicle’s loss of control;
- If the driver does lose control, her or she should take their foot off the gas and look and steer in the desired direction. Do not make any sudden changes in direction or speed;
- Avoid losing control by driving in the tracks of other vehicles; and
- Keep a good distance between vehicles to prevent dust from obscuring vision.