Thompson RCMP traffic services Const. Ryan Flemming of the Thompson RCMP says unregistered and uninsured vehicles are commonplace on city streets.
“One of the biggest issues in Thompson is unregistered and uninsured vehicles,” he said. “In the 2019 calendar year, this is just me, I towed over 150 unregistered and uninsured vehicles. The other guys are out there stopping vehicles too. We do get people who have a blatant disregard, and there are some cases where people legitimately don’t know. There are two separate tickets for this. Driving without registration is a $298 fine. The fine for no insurance is $672. Plus your vehicle gets towed.”
People without driver’s licences or expired licences are another big issue for Flemming.
“If you are caught while driving suspended, your vehicle gets impounded on the spot for 30 days,” he warned. “The consequences are serious for that. This is a $672 fine.”
A lack of seatbelt use is another problem.
“It’s not often that I go on a shift without writing a seatbelt ticket,” he said. “The ones that I find really concerning are people who don’t have their kids in seatbelts. A lack of booster seats is a problem. Manitoba law requires children to remain in booster seats until they are four feet nine inches tall, or 80 pounds, or nine years old. There are a lot of people who simply don’t know that.”
Distracted driving with cellphones has become a major problem with hefty consequences, explained Flemming.
“I’m amazed with how many people I stop who are holding the phone on speaker phone and think it’s OK,” he said. “When you are driving you are absolutely not allowed to touch the phone. Phone calls that take place 100 per cent through the vehicle are OK. If you can answer it through the dash or your screen that’s OK. A cellphone ticket is $672 and a first offence 72-hour licence suspension. A second offence is a seven-day licence suspension.”
Driving unsupervised with a learner’s licence is also a problem locally.
“Obviously it’s the same for everywhere in Canada. If you have a learner’s licence, you need someone with you who is a licensed driver,” explained Flemming. “I’ve stopped quite a few people who only have a learner’s. They think that just because they are only going to Walmart, or just going to Safeway that they’re fine. It’s doesn’t matter. If you are on the road with learner’s, you need a supervising driver. That’s a $298 fine.”
Flemming said there are repeat traffic offenders who have total disregard for traffic law.
“There are some people who I’ve stopped two, three, four, five times a year,” he said. “They have a blatant disregard.”
Issues with window tint are also frequently encountered.
“Your front two windows have to allow 50 per cent of the light outside to pass into the vehicle,” he explained. “A lot of people I stop, they go someplace, ask for the regulation, and get a 50 per cent tint, but what the installers and the owners are forgetting is that your factory windows have a tint of 10 to 15 per cent. With that tint and the 50 per cent tint, they end up with a 65 to 70 per cent tint. Only 30 to 40 per cent of the light is going through. Window tint is the big equipment violation in town.”
Flemming encourages everyone to install snow tires in winter, although there is no law in Manitoba that requires them.
“There is an MPI program where you can finance winter tires over a several year span,” he said. “One, two, three or four years.”
Flemming also wants to remind drivers to use caution and drive the appropriate speed for winter conditions.
“The speed limit throughout town is 50 km/hr,” he says. “But just because it’s 50, does not mean that everyone should drive 50. This winter I’ve been writing a lot of tickets for people going through red lights, and a common excuse I’m hearing is ‘The roads are icy, and I didn’t think I could stop, so I just drove straight through.’ If the roads are icy, you have to drive appropriately. You have to make an attempt to stop. Same with stop signs.”
Unsecured loads are another Flemming commonly encounters.
“If you are driving with your tailgate down and your load above the sides of the truck bed, especially with big items, this stuff needs to be secured down.”
Installing aftermarket coloured lights is also illegal, even though purchasing them is not.
“One of the more common ones I’m seeing is people who have blue lights on their vehicle,” he explained. “Under the vehicle equipment regulations, nobody is allowed to have blue lights, except the police or snowploughs.”
Licence plate covers are also illegal.
“You can have nothing in front of your plate,” he said. “Manitoba law also requires that you have a front licence plate for your vehicle. One on front, one on the back.”
Impaired driving is also a significant problem in the region, said Flemming.
“You lose your licence for at least three months initially,” he explained. “The vehicle gets impounded for at least 30 days, possibly 60. People are also facing Criminal Code charges, or a licence suspension, so it’s just not worth it. There’s all the court costs and people are going to jail. It’s just not worth it.”