Media Release – Distracted Driving Legislation Failing to Make the Roads Safer

Press Release, Transportation, Frontier Centre

Winnipeg, 13 July 2012: According to a new backgrounder report from the Frontier Centre released today, distracted driving legislation has failed to improve road safety in Manitoba.  Highway fatalities reached an all-time high in that province during the first full year under the legislation.

The backgrounder entitled Distracted Driving Legislation Failing to Make the Roads Safer is authored by Frontier analysts Steve Lafleur.


The Manitoba findings are consistent with the experiences of other jurisdictions that have adopted similar legislation. They are consistent, for example, with data from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), which has studied the effects of distracted driving legislation in the United States. In a study of four states that implemented banning texting while driving, IIHS found that collisions increased in all four jurisdictions relative to comparable states. The increase was especially noticeable among younger drivers.

The danger of distracted driving legislation is that rather than complying, people tend to find ways to conceal their activities. This can result in more dangerous actions such as texting from below windshield level. IIHS found that in simulations, drivers focussing on dashboard displays, rather than at windshield level were three times more likely to end up in collisions. This is the type of behavior that cell phone bans encourage.

Rather than focusing on punishing drivers, the backgrounder recommends focussing on driver education. A harm reduction approach involves teaching drivers about the potential danger of cell phone use while driving, and how to minimize the associated danger when one must use the phone would be a more practical method of improving road safety.

For further comment (media only) please contact:

Steve Lafleur, Policy Analyst,