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Manitoba drivers still doing too much talking, texting

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Nearly 1,500 tickets have been issued this month to Manitoba drivers who were observed using an electronic hand-held device.

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Nearly 1,500 tickets have been issued this month to Manitoba drivers who were observed using an electronic hand-held device.

It appears Manitoba drivers are slowly getting the text message.

According to Manitoba Public Insurance, nearly 1,500 tickets have been issued this month to Manitoba drivers who were observed using an electronic hand-held device.

That's down from the 1,800 provincial offence notices issued to motorists who were observed handling and using their cell phones while driving in a similar crackdown last November.

MPI is funding a province-wide enforcement initiative in April, with six police agencies (RCMP, Winnipeg, Brandon, Winkler, Morden and Rivers) taking part.

The crackdown re-visits a similar project the Crown corporation undertook five months ago.

MPI and law enforcement officials say the message still isn't getting through to some drivers.

"Distracted driving is extremely dangerous driver behaviour," said MPI spokeswoman MaryAnn Kempe. "The numbers clearly show that some drivers continue to break the law and place innocent motorists at risk.

"Reducing fatalities on our roadways is accomplished by the proactive combination of education, awareness and law enforcement. It’s against the law to use an electronic hand-held device while driving and a recent poll by our corporation reflected Manitobans’ concerns.

"Almost nine in 10 Manitobans reported that cell phone use while driving is a serious problem."

Dating back to 2005, roughly 25 road deaths each year in Manitoba are attributed to distracted driving. The penalty for texting or talking on a cell phone (without a hands-free device) while operating a vehicle on Manitoba roadways is a $200 fine and two demerits.

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