By Sarah Klein
WINNIPEG — New tougher penalties for distracted drivers roll out province-wide on Wednesday.
Effective July 1, any Manitoba motorist caught using a hand-held electronic communication device will drop five levels Manitoba Public Insurance’s Driver Safety Rating (DSR) scale.
“This change sends a clear message to all Manitobans that our government is committed to ensuring the safety of everyone on the road,” said Attorney General Gord Mackintosh. “We know that distracted driving is a serious problem in our province that contributes to collisions, fatalities and serious injuries.”
Manitoba will then lead the country in having the highest demerit sanction associated with talking on hand-held cellphones or texting while driving.
The costs incurred to the affected motorist will range from about $300 for the very best drivers to $3,000 or more for drivers with already poor driving records. Before the change, a conviction for talking on a cellphone or texting while driving resulted in two demerits in addition to a $200 fine.
An average of 28 people are killed due to distracted driving each year in Manitoba, while nearly 2,500 distracted drivers are involved in collisions annually.