Manitoba Public Insurance to provide funding for police to take aim at distracted drivers

With an average of one in three road deaths in Manitoba and thousands of collisions attributed to distracted driving annually, Manitoba Public Insurance is once again funding a highly successful road safety initiative aimed at drivers who continue to illegally use hand-held electronic devices while driving.

Manitoba’s public auto insurer is providing approximately $200,000 in funding to support enhanced police enforcement programs, which began earlier this month and will run throughout April. Additional campaigns are planned for July and the fall. The campaign launches on the heels of tough new distracted driving legislation announced last month by the Government of Manitoba.

“This campaign is a joint initiative between Manitoba Public Insurance, the RCMP and police services in Winnipeg, Brandon, Winkler, Morden, Rivers, Altona and Dakota Ojibway. For the seventh consecutive year, Manitoba Public Insurance funding will be used to enhance regular enforcement efforts by our police partners,” explained Ward Keith, vice-president, Business Development and Communications, Manitoba Public Insurance.

“Over the past seven years of these distracted driving campaigns, nearly 10,000 provincial offence notices were issued by law enforcement partners. This is a clear indication that more work is required to address growing concerns about distracted driving.”

Distracted driving collisions rising

Distracted driving collisions in the province increased from 2,415 in 2011 to 11,086 in 2016, according to Manitoba Public Insurance data. The direct insurance costs associated with distracted driving have been estimated at least $70 million per year, a figure that ultimately affects the insurance premiums that all vehicle owners pay.

“These joint awareness and enforcement projects are a good example of how road safety partners can work together to align efforts and maximize outcomes for the safety of all road users,” said Keith. “Together they send a powerful message that high-risk driving behaviours contributing to collisions, serious injuries and fatalities are no longer acceptable and will not be tolerated. Everyone is entitled to be safe on our roadways.”

Fostering safer roads for all

“We cannot stress enough the importance of being focused while driving on Manitoba’s roadways,” said RCMP Assistant Commissioner Scott Kolody, President of the Manitoba Association of Chiefs of Police.

“It is paramount that all drivers make every effort to make good decisions while driving and not get distracted. The decision to pay attention on the road can save lives. Many of the deaths we see on our roadways are avoidable, and it is imperative that people think about the consequences of their actions. Through dedicated enforcement projects, police are working to stop people from driving while distracted.”

Police enforcement activities supported by Manitoba Public Insurance will include both traditional roadside enforcement and more creative tactics. One such tactic recently announced by the Winnipeg Police Service involves placing officers on transit buses to observe drivers who may be using their cellphones while driving.

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