MPI launches anti-distracted driving campaign

Manitoba Public Insurance has launched a social media campaign to try and curb distracted driving in the province.

New social media campaign aimed at drivers age 15-25

Manitoba Public Insurance has launched a new campaign to combat distracted driving in the province. CBC's Aadel Haleem reports. 1:55

Manitoba Public Insurance has launched a social media campaign to try and curb distracted driving in the province.

MPI officials said at least 160 deaths on Manitoba have been linked to distracted driving since 2005.

"One in four fatal crashes in Manitoba are directly attributed to distracted driving," said Mary-Ann Kempe of MPI.

Manitoba RCMP charged over 600 people with distracted driving in 2012, and cell phones were listed as the number one distraction for drivers.

Shelley Forney’s nine-year-old daughter was a part of those statistics.

Five years ago, she was struck and killed by a car while riding her bike.

The driver was on her phone at the time of the crash.

"She’s gone – decaying six feet under in a hole in the ground. All because of one person’s choice to make a call in the car while she was driving," said Forney.

Now, Forney is campaigning against distracted driving. She spoke to students at Sturgeon Heights School Tuesday as part of MPI’s new campaign.   The Don’t Text and Drive campaign kicked off in the province on Tuesday, and Forney said she will continue her talks until her message gets through.

"You never think anything bad is going to happen to you or your family. Well, here I am. We’re a statistic. She’s a statistic, and I want that to stop," said Forney.

"So I’m going to keep doing this."

MPI is targeting drivers between 16 and 25 years of age.

RCMP reminded drivers Tuesday that distracted driving doesn’t just include texting. Officers encountered Manitoba drivers grooming themselves, eating and drinking, reading the paper, watching videos or using a navigation system.

Penalties don’t include demerits

Currently, distracted driving comes with a $200 ticket, but drivers don’t lose merits on their license.

Other provinces, such as Saskatchewan, slap drivers with four demerits if they are ticketed for distracted driving.

CAA Manitoba’s Liz Peters said those demerits would go a long way in preventing people from texting and driving.

"If there is a hit on your pocketbook, that’s going to hit you when you pay your insurance every year because you’ve got demerits as a result," said Peters.

"That would go a lot further in preventing people in the first place."