We all know the dangers of texting while driving – statistics are already staggering on the dangers of doing it – however, many of us continue to correspond with others while driving. This sort of 'distracted driving' is not being taken lightly by the courts or governments, especially in Canada as Manitoba government just announced tougher sanctions aimed at preventing this sort of behavior. Some countries, such as Singapore, have begun to issue jail sentences in addition to the fines and many are wondering if Canada and the UK are far behind in enforcing these types of punishments. Ontario recently imposed a $1,000 fine for those caught texting while driving and now Manitoba is severely stiffening the penalty if caught performing a distractive driving behavior.
Before this latest change, if you were convicted of talking on a cellphone or texting while driving you would receive a $200 fine and two demerits. Starting today, the financial fines will run from $300 for the very best drivers all the way up to $3,000 or more for drivers with already poor records. The convicted driver will also drop five levels on Manitoba's Public Insurance Driver Safety Rating (DSR) and that can have a significant impact on the cost of a driver's license and insurance premiums…and it takes five years for this to leave your record. Minister Mackintosh said, "This change sends a clear message to all Manitobans that our government is committed to ensuring the safety of everyone on the road. We know that distracted driving is a serious problem in our province that contributes to collisions, fatalities and serious injuries…There is no denying that talking on a hand-held cellphone and texting are both major distractions while driving. Even the quickest phone call or shortest text message when behind the wheel can result in tragedy."
The report indicates that an average of 28 people are killed each year as a result of distracted driving and nearly 2,500 distracted drivers are involved in collisions annually. The Minister indicated that the whole purpose of the DSR system was designed to reward and encourage safe driving with good drivers being rewarded financially through discounts on driver's licenses and insurance.