Tougher distracted driving laws are en route for Manitoba as of Nov. 1.
If you’re caught, you’ll get an automatic three-day license suspension. For a second offence within 10 years, you’d get a seven-day suspension.
Fines are also increasing from $203 to $672, and demerits are rising from two to five points.
Officers charging a driver with careless driving will be required to notify Manitoba Public Insurance immediately to determine whether further penalties will be required, based on your driving record.
You’ll also be required to pay a $50 licence reinstatement fee that MPI will collect.
The fines are now in line with those for people who are caught smoking pot in a provincial park or if a person under 19 is caught with cannabis. There had been some criticism that the fines for pot didn’t compare for texting and driving.
Infrastructure minister Ron Schuler said the number of distracted driving collisions has gone up from 4,780 in 2012 to 15,403 in 2017.
“It’s growing exponentially,” Schuler said. “It would be easy if it was just young people but it’s every demographic. We all have to take this seriously.
“These stricter penalties mirror those for impaired driving because the consequences are just as serious,” he said.
“This legislation underscores the seriousness of distracted driving and enacts stricter penalties for this behaviour.”
In 2017, 30 people were killed in crashes related to distracted driving while 184 people were seriously hurt.
A public awareness campaign by MPI will also begin Nov. 1.
WATCH: Global’s Amber McGuckin explains the new penalties for drivers caught texting