Saskatchewan has introduced stiffer penalties for people caught texting while driving, and the move has caught the attention of CAA Manitoba and the provincial government.
New legislation in Saskatchewan calls for police to impound vehicles for a week after second distracted driving offense in one year – even if it’s a company vehicle.
Right now in Manitoba, distracted driving nets a fine of $200 and two demerits.
But Mike Mager at CAA Manitoba wants a different type of penalty added to the mix.
"Taking the phone from the individual would have a very quick and immediate effect,” said Mager. “You seize the phone. They don't have their phone for a period of time. I think that will make people listen and think and go, 'Oh my gosh. I don't want to be without my phone, so I'd better not do this.’”
Distracted driving tickets in Winnipeg
1,192 – 2010
3,568 – 2011
4,837 – 2012
4,689 – 2013
One in four vehicle deaths is caused by distracted driving, said Mager. Drivers distracted at the wheel are 23 times as likely to get into a crash when they are texting while driving.
"Take the person's phone away from them. I can't think of a better deterrent for somebody that doesn't have their cell phone,” said Mager. “People are so dependent on their cell phones at all demographics, I think that would be a very simple way and serious consequence."
Last week, Ontario legislators considered increasing fines for distracted driving to $1,000 and three demerit points.
Manitoba Justice Minister Andrew Swan said harsher penalties in Manitoba are on the way.
“We haven’t yet decided what that will be. The key is, it has to be meaningful and effective,” said Swan.