Manitoba Toughens Sanctions Aimed at Driving with Cellphones

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.

High-risk drivers who endanger other motorists or pedestrians by using hand-held electronic communication devices while now face tougher sanctions, according to Attorney General Gord Mackintosh, the minister responsible for Manitoba Public Insurance.

“This change sends a clear message to all Manitobans that our government is committed to ensuring the safety of everyone on the road,” said Mackintosh. “We know that distracted driving is a serious problem in our province that contributes to collisions, fatalities and serious injuries.”

Motorists convicted of using hand-held electronic devices while driving will drop five levels on Manitoba Public Insurance’s Driver Safety Rating (DSR) scale. Manitoba now leads the country in having the highest demerit sanction associated with talking on hand-held cellphones or texting while driving, the minister said.

“There is no denying that talking on a hand-held cellphone and texting are both major distractions while driving,” said Mackintosh. “Even the quickest phone call or shortest text message when behind the wheel can result in tragedy.”

A drop of five levels on the DSR can have a significant impact on the cost of a driver’s licence and entitlement to vehicle insurance discounts over the five years it takes to return to a pre-conviction placement. Financial sanctions will range from about $300 for the very best drivers to $3,000 or more for drivers with already poor driving records. Before this change, a conviction for talking on a cellphone or texting while driving resulted in two demerits in addition to a $200 fine.