With new distracted driving fines coming into effect Thursday, one Winnipeg woman whose husband was killed by a texting driver doesn’t think the new penalties will make a difference.
In September of 2011, Mark Derry was killed in a head-on collision on Dugald Road. The other driver, who was 19 at the time, was texting at the time of the crash.
Derry’s wife, Cheryl, said even though the new fines have tripled from $203 to $672 and demerits are rising from two to five points, she’s still not sure if the message will get through.
“I don’t think it will help, but I don’t know what will,” Derry said.
“We are a society now where everything is instant gratification. Nobody wants to wait for anything. Got to answer my phone, got to text somebody, they can’t wait.”
Even on the first day of the new penalties, Derry noticed a familiar sight on her drive to work.
“I saw three people on their phones, one was texting, one was holding phone to ear, one was just looking at it.”
She sees it every day and still gets emotional.
“Some days it’s just resignation. That was this morning, nothing’s gonna change,” Derry said. “Other days, I get quite upset and literally have to pull off the road and calm myself down.”
The other driver was sentenced and convicted in 2015 to two years and two months for the offences.
“We went through hell afterwards. My husband was in his early 50s, we had lots of plans for the future and all of the sudden that was gone. My daughter just had a baby, she doesn’t get to meet her grandfather.”
While Derry has never spoken to the driver, she has heard he regrets the decision and would never do it again.
“He says it’s made a difference and he would never do those stupid choices ever again. But somebody had to die for him to decide that and we live with that day to day.”
Derry has been an active advocate since the crash, speaking at several drivers education classes a year. She worries more people will lose someone dear in a similar situation, like she did more than seven years ago.
“I think more people will try and hide it even more than they already do to make sure they don’t get caught,” Derry said. “I just don’t want someone to lose a loved one because of a stupid choice that can’t wait 15 minutes.”
The number of Manitoba drivers over the last five years who have been convicted of driving while using a cell phone or other hand-operated electronic device:
- 2012-13 – 4,405
- 2013-14 – 6,767
- 2014-15 – 6,423
- 2015-16 – 5,902
- 2016-17 – 6,165
WATCH: Texting and driving? Prepare to pay $672 and lose your licence