Distracted driving

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Distracted driving is anything that diverts your attention from the road and the responsibilities you have as a driver. Looking away from the road to answer texts, find that song, dig into your take-out or check your GPS are all things drivers shouldn’t be doing behind the wheel. Being distracted, even if it’s just for a few seconds, is all it takes to cause a fatal crash.

If you’re not looking at the road, you won’t see potential hazards.

Drivers need to give their full attention to the road. One of the most dangerous (and most preventable) behaviours is using a hand-held electronic device while behind the wheel. That funny cat video from your friend can wait. Let your calls go to voice mail, reply to your texts later and use audio cues for your navigation devices. When you’re behind the wheel, driving should be your only focus.

Just the facts

On average, one in three deaths and one in three serious injuries on Manitoba roads involve a distracted driver.

Suspension and fine

In Manitoba, it is illegal to use a hand-held electronic device while driving. This includes everything from smartphones and iPods to tablets.

Drivers caught violating this law receive three-day licence suspension for a first offence and a seven-day suspension for subsequent offences. Upon conviction, they also receive a $672 fine and move five levels down the Driver Safety Rating (DSR) scale.

In serious cases, or when other distractions cause you to violate traffic laws or end up in a collision, you could be charged with a number of offences, including careless driving, dangerous driving or criminal negligence. These can result in more severe penalties (including jail time) and other driving interventions. You can also be charged with whatever offence the distraction caused you to commit, such as failing to obey a traffic signal

Speak out

Road safety is everyone’s business. If you’re a passenger and your driver is talking, texting or tweeting, scrolling a playlist or even checking for updates behind the wheel, speak up, remind them that it is against the law and insist they put the phone away. Along with saving them from a hefty fine and possible suspension, you could have just saved yourself from a collision. You can also help others help themselves. When you call someone, ask if they are driving. If they are, call back later.