Police in Manitoba are cracking down on drivers using hand-held devices with enhanced enforcement programs supported by Manitoba Public Insurance in the months of April, July and October, it was announced Thursday.
Police forces participating are in Winnipeg, Brandon, Winkler, Morden and the 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 in a release. “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.”
According to research data provided by MPI, 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. Using a cellphone reduces the type of brain activity needed for driving by as much as 37%.
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.
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 in the Manitoba increased to 15,000 in 2017 from 2,415 in 2011, according to Manitoba Public Insurance data.