Manitoba Public Insurance is sounding the alarm over what it says is a significant spike in high-speed dangerous driving tickets being handed out across the province.
Numbers released by the public insurer Wednesday show 148 speed-related serious driving offences (SDO) between April and June, up 60 per cent from the 93 SDOs over the same time last year.
“About one in five road fatalities last year in Manitoba had speed as a contributing factor,” MPI’s Satvir Jatana said in a release.
“The COVID-19 pandemic has contributed to reduced traffic volumes on Manitoba roadways. Unfortunately, many drivers seem to think this is an opportunity to speed and travel at very dangerous speeds.”
The average speed for the recent SDOs was 59 km/h, says MPI, while the highest was 98 km/h over the posted speed limit — 178 km/h in a 80 km/h zone.
“Such high-risk driving behaviour is a risk to everyone who travels our roadways. Innocent people should be allowed to travel safely,” said Jatana.
Police say drivers’ apparent growing need for speed is a problem both in and outside the city.
“Every day, our officers are seeing irresponsible drivers risking their lives, and the lives of others, by driving at incredibly high rates of speed,” said RCMP Insp. Chris Moore.
Winnipeg police Insp. Gord Spado says speeding is dangerous for everyone.
“Speeding increases the risk of losing control of the vehicle, particularly during evasive manoeuvres, and has a negative impact on reaction time and stopping distance, not to mention severity of injury and damage,” he said.
“We will continue to conduct speed enforcement through both traditional and automated means to enhance road safety for all road users.”
Under the law, drivers caught going 50 km/h or more over the limit are reported to MPI, and the speeders are given five business days to schedule a show cause hearing with the insurer.
Manitoba Public Insurance says roughly 90 per cent of those hearings lead to a suspended licence.
The suspensions can range from a few months to a number of years, depending on how fast the driver is caught speeding and their driving history, according to MPI.