RCMP officers in Manitoba are being extra diligent this week in cracking down on impaired drivers. 

Canada Road Safety Week runs from May 14th to the 20th, which includes the Victoria Day long weekend. Traditionally this weekend, RCMP see more people on Manitoba roadways. 

Inspector Michael Gagliardi is the officer in charge of Manitoba RCMP Traffic Services. He says impaired driving continues to be the leading criminal cause of death in Canada. In an effort to combat this problem, officers continue to use a tool given to them under Bill C-46, which is mandatory alcohol screening. The legislation has been in effect since 2018 and allows a peace officer to conduct roadside screenings for the presence of alcohol in the body without needing to have reasonable grounds to suspect impairment.

"The officer doesn't require any suspicion, they can just use the device," says Gagliardi. "The purpose of it again is just to catch and keep our roadways safe and free of impaired drivers."

The Manitoba RCMP Traffic Services unit screens everyone they pull over and many detachments throughout the province do as well.

"Screening everyone eliminates any perception of bias, and helps us catch impaired drivers," says Gagliardi. "Everyone pulled over by RCMP Traffic Services is asked to blow into an approved Alcohol Screening Device. We need every tool at our disposal to stop impaired driving and other high-risk driving behaviours."

Also assisting in enforcement are the automated license plate readers that are present in many RCMP vehicles. These readers can read multiple plates and run them while an officer patrols an area, so high-risk drivers, prohibited drivers, and stolen vehicles can be identified quickly and efficiently.

Gagliardi says there are several goals for Canada Road Safety Week. First of all, he notes they are using enforcement and education to hopefully reduce and limit some of the high-risk driving behaviours. Officers are also trying to keep roadways safe and free of collisions and fatalities. And finally, he notes they will focus on the three major contributors to collisions and fatalities: speeding, impaired driving and distracted driving. 

Gagliardi says he cannot confirm that there will be checkstops this week, but what he can say is that traffic service members will be out on the roads all weekend at various times of the day or night, enforcing the Highway Traffic Act and looking for impaired drivers and other infractions. 

Gagliardi says his message for motorists this long weekend is to drive safely, stay focused on the road and slow down.

"You'll get there eventually, no reason to speed," he says. "If you are going to drink, please don't drive, arrange for another ride."