Manitoba bans cell phone use in cars effective July 15

Drivers caught texting or using hand-held cellphones could face a fine of almost $200 under a new law that takes effect July 15 under amendments to the Highway Traffic Act, Infrastructure and Transportation Minister Steve Ashton announced today.
 
"We know the hazards that distracted drivers create on our roads. Talking on a hand-held cellphone and texting are major distractions while driving and we’re moving to make our roads safer for all Manitobans," said Ashton.
 
A public-education, multimedia campaign has reminded motorists that if they are on the road, they should stay off the phone and text devices. Under the amendments, motorists may also face a fine of almost $200 for smoking in vehicles when children under the age of 16 are present.
 
"Driving a motor vehicle requires the total concentration of a driver, as life-saving decisions are often made in an instant," said Manitoba Public Insurance CEO and president Marilyn McLaren. "Text messaging or using a hand-held cellphone while driving are both identified forms of driver distraction that can lead to a crash."
 
"This new law will help refocus motorists on what should be their top priority – driving – as it only takes a split second to have an accident, " said CAA Manitoba president and CEO, Mike Mager. "Driving requires close attention and CAA Manitoba has always reminded motorists about the dangers of distracted driving and that is why we support this new law as it requires motorists to shut out those distractions."
 
British Columbia, Saskatchewan, Ontario, Quebec, Newfoundland, Nova Scotia, and Prince Edward Island have comparable laws and Alberta recently introduced legislation banning the use of hand-held cellphones while driving.  Several jurisdictions also have laws prohibiting smoking in vehicles with children present including British Columbia, Ontario, Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island and New Brunswick.
 
Manitoba’s legislation allows the use of cellphones while driving to make telephone calls, provided they are equipped as hands-free devices and used in a hands-free manner. The law also allows use of a hand-held cellphone to call the police, fire or ambulance service in an emergency.

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