Winnipeg police dole out 1,300 distracted driving tickets in 30 days
Texting teens not necessarily to blame for high rates of distracted driving, Winnipeg police say
Winnipeg police officers wrote 11 distracted driving tickets in just 55 minutes at a single corner on Tuesday as part of targeted enforcement for Canada Road Safety Week.
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In April, officers cracked down on people who couldn't stay off their phones while driving, issuing 1,300 tickets in just 30 days.
"Can you imagine if that targeted enforcement was every day, all the time -- the numbers that we would be coming up with? People just aren't getting the message for some reason," said Michalyshen. "We're living in a world where we just can't seem to put those devices down, even for just a few minutes."
The province upped the penalty for distracted driving last summer to a $200 fine and five demerits. That's the stiffest distracted driving penalty in all of Canada.
All ages to blame, cops say
Still, Michalyshen said, there's been no change in driver behaviour.
"We're not seeing any improvement. We're not," he said.
Michalyshen also said he had no evidence that texting millennials were any more to blame than other drivers.
"I don't have any stats that say it's the younger generation … everyone is guilty of grabbing ahold of that phone at an inappropriate time," he said.
He said if the province opts to up penalties for distracted drivers, the Winnipeg Police Service would support that, but they would rather see people get the message from their campaigns.
In the meantime, they've got eyes in cruisers and on sidewalks.
Plain-clothes 'spotters' peep inside cars
The service is using plain clothes officers called "spotters" who walk alongside traffic and radio in license plates of people they spot on their phones or other devices.
He said officers often see people who think they're being sneaky by texting with their phones in their laps but that drops their field of vision even further away from the road and further slows their reaction to unexpected hazards like a child running into the street.
"You're putting other members of the public at risk and that's completely unsatisfactory as we're concerned," said Michalyshen. "It's so easily avoidable."
Canada Road Safety Week runs May 17 to 23.