Police looking for distracted drivers: Manitoba Public Insurance provides funding

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 funding to support enhanced police enforcement programs for the months of April, July and October. Participating police agencies this year will be Winnipeg, Brandon, Winkler, Morden and RCMP.

“On average, one in three road deaths and thousands of collisions are attributed to distracted driving annually,” said Satvir Jatana, vice-president responsible for Communications, Manitoba Public Insurance.

“These dedicated projects are highly successful, resulting in nearly 13,000 offence notices issued over the last six years. Changing driver behaviour can be achieved by the combination of education, awareness and law enforcement.”

Distracted driving research

A driver is four times more likely to be in a crash if they talk on their phone while driving. Texting while driving makes a driver six times more likely to be in a crash, according to research focused on distracted driving.

Using a cellphone reduces the type of brain activity needed for driving by as much as 37 per cent. Other activities identified as distracted driving are: reading or writing while driving, reaching for an object, an extended glance at an outside object, browsing/scrolling on a cell phone, operating other in-vehicle controls or devices, interacting with passengers (particularly for teen drivers-passengers) and eating and drinking.

Stiff penalties

Drivers caught using a hand-operated electronic device while driving will receive an automatic three-day driver licence suspension and $672 fine. Upon conviction, the driver will also move down five levels on their Driver Safety Rating.

A second offence, within a 10-year period, results in an automatic seven-day driver licence suspension and $672 fine. Conviction will also result in five demerits.

Distracted driving collisions rising

Distracted driving collisions in the province increased from 2,415 in 2011 to 15,000 in 2017, 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.

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