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Cash for crackdown on distracted drivers

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MPI is teaming up with police forces throughout the province to crackdown on distracted driving in November.

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MPI is teaming up with police forces throughout the province to crackdown on distracted driving in November.

Manitoba Public Insurance is teaming up with police across the province to target drivers who continue to use their phones while driving.

For the month of November, MPI is funding an initiative that will allow nine law enforcement agencies to specifically target drivers who text while behind the wheel or use their phones without a hands-free system in place. The Winnipeg Police Service, RCMP and agencies in Brandon, Winkler, Morden, Altona, Rivers, Ste. Anne and the Dakota Ojibway First Nation are involved in the campaign.

MPI also announced it has partnered with commercial driving schools to introduce new content regarding the dangers and consequences of distracted driving. This content will be a part of the High School Driver Education program.

"Reducing fatalities on our roadways is accomplished by the proactive combination of education, awareness and law enforcement," offered MPI spokeswoman MaryAnn Kempe in a statement. "Positive steps continue to be made. The rate of fatal collisions in Manitoba has been steadily decreasing over the past few years."

According to MPI data, there was an average of 87 fatalities annually on Manitoba roads between 2007-11, with approximately 25 of those deaths coming as a result of distracted driving.

MPI is spending $140,000 on the November crackdown; with approximately $80,000 going to Winnipeg police.

With that money, the WPS has dedicated an extra four officers this month to help with the initiative. Chief Devon Clunis said the WPS is issuing an average of 50 tickets a day to drivers who are using their cellphones in-hand to talk, text or tweet while driving.

Manitoba introduced distracted driving legislation in July 2010. A distracted driving ticket will cost a motorist nearly $200 and two demerits.

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