Manitoba Public Insurance hails growth in seatbelt use and pledges to get the final few to buckle up

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March 1, 2006 – While Manitobans have become some of the most conscientious seatbelt users in the country, according to a new Transport Canada survey, Manitoba Public Insurance said today it will not relax its efforts to convince all Manitobans they should use vehicle restraint systems properly.

“Certainly we thank and congratulate Manitobans for becoming more safety conscious, and we’re pleased that Manitoba is now among the leading provinces for seatbelt use – with 90.3 per cent buckling up in rural Manitoba and 92.4 per cent in urban areas,” said John Douglas, Vice President of Corporate Public Affairs. “You have to wonder why there are even a few people who still don’t use them, when there is so much dramatic proof that seatbelts save lives.”

Douglas attributed Manitoba’s rise in seatbelt use to a number of factors:

  • In 2003 the provincial fine for not wearing a seatbelt jumped from $100 to $230 and two demerits were imposed.

  • New and continuing awareness initiatives are graphically depicting what can happen to an unrestrained occupant in a crash. In addition to running a new advertising campaign, Manitoba Public Insurance is touring the province to demonstrate its roll-over simulator, which shows first-hand how unbelted bodies can be ejected from a vehicle. More than 45,000 Manitobans saw the demonstrations last year.

  • Rural community seatbelt checkstop programs are encouraging seatbelt wearing.

  • Since 2003 RCMP and municipal forces have increased enforcement.

The Transport Canada survey, conducted in September 2004, is part of the National Occupant Restraint Program. The federal-provincial partnership aims to achieve a minimum rate of 95 per cent in seatbelt usage and the proper use of child restraints by 2010.

“We believe Manitoba can reach and exceed that rate well before the target date,” said Douglas. “We will be doing everything we can to make that happen. Greater safety pays dividends in lives and dollars, and there are few safety measures that are simpler and more effective than the proper use of seatbelts and child restraints.”

About 130 people die on Manitoba roads each year, and about half of them are not wearing seatbelts at the time of the crash.

“Clearly you have a much greater chance of being seriously injured or killed if you’re among the 10 per cent of Manitobans who don’t wear seatbelts than you do if you’re among the 90 per cent who get the message,” said Douglas.

Manitoba Public Insurance is a nonprofit Crown Corporation that has provided basic automobile coverage since 1971. Services are available through 22 claim centres, two Customer Service centres in 13 locations across Manitoba, and ten Driver and Vehicle Licensing (DVL) outlets. DVL services are also available through 147 agents in 123 communities, including 100 photo licensing agencies, and mobile testing units that service 69 communities. A staff complement of more than 1,600 strong makes it one of the largest employers in the province. Additionally, MPI partners with more than 300 independent insurance brokers. Visit www.mpi.mb.ca