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No road fatalities for 15 months
RCMP seek to maintain safety record during Canada Road Safety Week

Galit Rodan
Northern News Services
Published Thursday, May 17, 2012

The NWT welcomes Canada Road Safety Week with arguably the best safety record in the country.

For the 15th month in a row, there have been no fatalities on NWT roads and trails, distinguishing the territory from all other jurisdictions in North America, said Earl Blacklock, manager of public affairs and communications at the Department of Transportation.

"The last time we had a fatality on either the roads or trails was mid-December 2010," said Blacklock last week. This takes into account all cars, pedestrians, snow machines, all-terrain vehicles and bicycles.

"It's unusual," said Blacklock, "but it's something that continues and we ascribe it primarily to people responding to messages to wear their seat-belt. We know people are 13 times more likely to die in a collision if they are not wearing their seat-belt."

Statistics are not yet available for 2011 but in 2010, the total number of reported collisions and total collisions involving alcohol were at their lowest in at least a decade. The NWT is the only jurisdiction in Canada that combines all road safety under a single brand the Drive Alive travel safety program, said Blacklock.

Other jurisdictions run separate ad campaigns for various road safety issues, such as impaired driving, distracted driving and seat-belt use.

"Instead of having big campaigns that people forget, we have mini-campaigns that support the brand," Blacklock said.

Drive Alive focuses on four key precautions: driving in accordance with road and weather conditions; eliminating distractions while driving; using appropriate safety equipment and preparing for the unexpected.

In 2009, when Transport Canada performed a survey of seat belt use amongst rural Canadians, NWT residents had the lowest rate of seat-belt use in the country at 38.2 per cent.

That same year, there were three fatalities associated with failing to wear a seat-belt.

The next year, there were two. In 2011, there were none.

In January, the GNWT introduced distracted driving legislation, which imposes a penalty of $115 and three demerit points for anyone caught using a restricted electronic device, such as a cellphone, MP3 player or GPS, while driving.

Canada Road Safety Week, which runs from May 15 to 21, is part of a national campaign to make Canada's roads the safest in the world by 2015.

RCMP "G" Division has also asked other detachments within the NWT to increase their patrols and try to give more time to traffic enforcement throughout the week.

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