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Winnipeg police cracking down on distracted driving this summer

A driver texts while at the wheel in this photo illustration of distracted driving. Paul Chiasson / The Canadian Press

The Winnipeg Police Service is ramping up efforts to catch distracted drivers.

The service is launching a campaign for July using “proactive and creative methods to deal with drivers caught using hand-operated electronic devices.”

The last time Winnipeg police had a targeted campaign was in April, when 480 drivers were ticketed.

READ MORE: Roadside suspensions on the way for Manitobans caught texting and driving

In a press release, police question why people aren’t treating distracted driving with the same severity as impaired driving.

“Drivers need to be mindful that the dangers of distracted driving such as collisions, damages, and injuries, are equal to those of impaired driving.”

Winnipeg police Sgt. Rob Duttchen shared his own personal connection to distracted driving after his father was killed in 2009 in Kingman, Ariz.

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In a video posted on YouTube, Duttchen said his dad was walking his dog when a 16-year-old girl, who was on her cell phone, crossed the median and struck him from behind.

READ MORE: Winnipeg police frustrated texting and driving still continues on the roads

“I’ve experienced first-hand how tragic distracted driving can be. I wouldn’t wish my worst enemy to go through it,” he said. “To experience that phone call in the middle of the night. And to find out how senseless and meaningless the texts were, to the point they took a life.”

Duttchen challenged people not to be tempted by a text.

“We always think it’s going to happen to somebody else. Is it worth the risk?” he asked. “Most people would use their intellect to not choose to drink and drive, but those same people don’t view texting and driving nearly as seriously.”

According to Manitoba Public Insurance, an average of almost 30 people die each year in Manitoba in crashes linked to distracted driving.

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Other stats from MPI include:

  • One in three deaths and one in five serious injuries on Manitoba roads involve a distracted driver, on average (2011-2015)
  • 11,093 drivers were involved in collisions due to distracted driving in 2016
  • Over 5,200 drivers were convicted for using a hand-held electronic device while driving in 2016

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