237 Manitoba drivers hit with suspensions for distracted driving

A driver texts while at the wheel in this photo illustration in Montreal on January 25, 2017. 237 Manitoba drivers were handed suspensions since stiffer penalties were put in place Nov. 1, 2018. Paul Chiasson / THE CANADIAN PRESS

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Three-day driving suspensions have been handed out to 237 Manitoba drivers since the province’s new distracted driving laws came into effect Nov. 1, according to stats compiled by Manitoba Public Insurance.

The Winnipeg Police Service issued 149 driver suspensions, while the RCMP and Brandon Police Service reported that 67 and 21 drivers, respectively, were charged for using hand-operated electronic devices while driving.

“Distracted driving remains a very serious road safety issue in Manitoba,” said Satvir Jatana, vice-president responsible for communications, Manitoba Public Insurance, in a release on Wednesday. “In 2017 alone, distracted driving was a contributing factor in more than 15,000 collisions, while 30 Manitobans lost their lives in distracted-related motor vehicle collisions.

“These police enforcement numbers confirm that too many Manitobans are still not getting the message about the dangers and consequences of distracted driving, and that should be a concern for all road users,” added Jatana.

In addition to an immediate roadside suspension, drivers convicted of using a hand-operated electronic device while driving also face a fine of $672 and five demerits on the Driver Safety Rating Scale.

“Our officers regularly see distracted drivers cause collisions that result in serious injury and even death on roadways throughout the province, these drivers are a clear risk to all Manitobans,” said Assistant Commissioner Scott Kolody, Commanding Officer of the Manitoba RCMP and President of the Manitoba Association Chiefs of Police.

“These new, strong penalties send a clear message that such driving behaviour will not be tolerated. Officers across the province will continue to look for, ticket and suspend distracted drivers so Manitoba roads are safer for everyone.”

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