Winnipeg police “surprised” by 400 distracted driving charges in April

Published: May 28, 2019

Updated: June 3, 2019

Author: Luke Jones

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Law enforcement agencies in Winnipeg confirmed they laid over 400 distracted driving charges in the city during April. Considering distracted driving now carrier a tougher penalty of a license suspension, police say motorists don’t seem to be getting the message about the dangers of using a device behind the wheel.

While the number of people caught texting while driving decreased by 14 percent year-on-year, police say the decline should have been steeper considering new penalties. Winnipeg police Insp. Gord Spado said he was surprised by the data:

“It’s actually really surprising to me that the numbers are still where they are,” he said. “As far as reactions, it’s varied. Some people here understand they know exactly what’s coming, and then other people yell and scream and say it’s unfair. “For a few months each year, Winnipeg police step up their enforcement of distracted driving laws.

People have been living with cellphones and relying on them for so many years it’s a matter of really getting through that this is no longer acceptable in a car.”

In some ways, April was an experiment for police in Winnipeg. It was the first time they had engaged in an increased enforcement operation since new distracted driving penalties were introduced at the turn of the year. Among those increased punishments are tripling the fine for holding an electronic device behind the wheel and a new three-day suspensions.

“I very much compare this to when seatbelt legislation came in,” Spado said. “People have been living with cellphones and relying on them for so many years it’s a matter of really getting through that this is no longer acceptable in a car.”