Manitobans are reminded that stricter penalties for distracted driving come into force November 1, 2018.

“The growing threat of distracted driving has led our government to take important action,” said Infrastructure Minister Ron Schuler. “Our government is taking serious measures because people are not putting their cellphones down and are engaging in other distracted behaviours while driving.”

“Our government is determined to reduce the growing threat posed by distracted driving because we are focused on keeping Manitobans safe,” said Crown Services Colleen Mayer. “By using public education, legislation and enforcement, we are working together with Manitoba Public Insurance to change the public perception and make distracted driving as socially unacceptable as impaired driving.”

Drivers will be subject to a three-day roadside licence suspension for the first time a driver is caught using a cellphone or other hand-operated electronic device and a seven-day suspension for a subsequent occurrence within 10 years. Suspended drivers will be required to immediately surrender their driver’s licence at roadside. As part of the changes for roadside licence suspensions, Manitoba Public Insurance (MPI) will collect a $50 licence reinstatement fee on behalf of the provincial government.

Officers charging a driver with careless driving will immediately notify MPI to review the driver’s record to determine if further penalties may be required.

“Stricter penalties are in line with impaired driving because the consequences are just as serious. Any activity that takes a driver’s attention away from the road is dangerous,” Schuler added. “In 2017, 30 people lost their lives and 184 people were seriously hurt. That is unacceptable.”

Further penalties also take effect tomorrow with fines for using a hand-operated electronic device while driving increasing to $672 from $203 and demerits for careless driving increasing to five points from two for each infraction.

The use of a hand-operated electronic device while driving reduces awareness and increases the risk of collision by nearly four times, said Schuler.