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One year on, Manitoba’s distracted driving laws still catching motorists

One year on, Manitoba’s distracted driving laws still catching motorists
Manitoba Public Insurance spokesperson Brian Smiley talks about numbers released on the first anniversary of the province introducing new distracted driving laws in Manitoba.

It’s been a year since the province introduced new distracted driving laws in Manitoba, and so far, more than 2,500 people have paid the price.

As of Nov. 1, 2018, penalties for distracted driving increased to a $672 ticket, five demerits and a licence suspension between three and seven days.

Manitoba Public Insurance said it has processed a total of 2,529 licence suspensions since the new penalties were introduced last fall.

READ MORE: New distracted driving penalties now in effect in Manitoba

Winnipeg police Traffic Division Insp. Gord Spado said the number of offences is dropping, but that’s not necessarily because people are taking the message to heart.

“In Winnipeg we’re seeing about a 30 per cent drop in offence noticed issued, but I don’t that’s indicative of the acceptance of the public that this is not something they should be doing,” Spado told 680 CJOB.

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“There’s a lot more people doing it than what we’ve caught.”

Winnipeg police say speeding and distracted driving continue to be a problem on city roadways
Winnipeg police say speeding and distracted driving continue to be a problem on city roadways

Spado said police have had some strange reactions from people they catch using a device while driving.

“People think they should be able to choose their suspension time, especially contractors who need their licence during the week, they wanna be able to serve their suspensions on the weekend when it’s convenient for them, and that’s just not how it works.

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“There are still people who are shocked and weren’t even aware it’s an offence, which I find hard to believe with the amount of publicity it’s got… but that’s what they’re telling us.”