Talking, texting drivers to get hit with demerits
Manitobans who text or talk on the phone while driving will soon be slapped with demerits on their driver's licences.
The province will make the regulatory changes this month to approve demerits along with a $200 fine for offenders.
Premier Greg Selinger said the province is catching up to what others have already done.
"Six other provinces already have the demerit system in place. We will be the seventh, and we think it will provide greater road safety," he said Tuesday.
Selinger said he had hoped a $200 fine would be enough of a deterrent, but the number of drivers caught using their phones behind the wheel has actually grown since Manitoba banned the use of cellphones while driving in 2010.
"It has not seemed to change the growth in the number of incidents, so additional measures seem to be in order right now," he said.
"Six other provinces have agreed with that and have brought in a demerit system."
Selinger said his cabinet has not yet determined how many demerits an offending driver would get. Other provinces issue between three and four demerits.Mike Mager, president and CEO of CAA Manitoba, said the stiffer rules will go a long way in making people take the matter more seriously.
"CAA members have consistently identified distracted driving as the number one road safety concern. But after almost three years since the new talking and texting law came into effect, they say that motorists’ habits haven’t changed much," he said.
In CAA’s most recent survey, conducted in February, 77.6 per cent of the 8,651 survey respondents agreed that demerits should be added to the current fine.
That is up from 66 per cent on the same survey in February 2012, and up from 58 per cent on the same survey in 2011.
In a survey conducted by CAA Manitoba last year, 99.7 per cent of respondents said they have seen motorists still using their cellphones while driving.
As well, 82.6 per cent of respondents said they thought it would be unlikely that offenders would be caught.