Winnipeg, Manitoba — September 11, 2014 — Manitoba Public Insurance is taking its anti-distracted driving “Your Last Words” campaign to the next level with the launch of a texting and driving simulator.
The simulator will be available both on-line and as a portable, event version. The simulator is interactive, sending scripted texts to participants who respond via their smartphone, while encountering vehicles, intersections and obstacles. When participants are finished they will see their driving errors and have the option of pledging to not text while driving, and sharing their experience via social media.
The on-line simulator is available via yourlastwords.ca and is designed to be like a typical driving experience with the user controlling an onscreen vehicle with their keyboard. The event versionâ”€which will be taken to various community events in the provinceâ”€will allow people to get behind the steering wheel, complete with multiple screens and gas/brake pedals.
â€œThe simulator will allow users to experience the dangers of texting and driving firsthand in a safe environment,â€ says MaryAnn Kempe, Vice-President, Business Development, Communications & Chief Product Officer, Manitoba Public Insurance. â€œThe objective is to provide an experience that will hopefully encourage drivers to stop this risky behaviour in real life driving. This multi-media campaign, the texting and driving simulator will help ensure our primary target demographic of teens and young adults get the message that it is not possible to drive safely while texting.â€
The online simulator will also be added to Manitoba Public Insuranceâ€™s Driver Education curriculum. Nearly 12,000 students take the program yearly in Manitoba.
Almost 5,000 Manitobans are convicted each year for using a hand-held electronic device while driving. A conviction results in a fine of $200 and two demerits on the Driver Safety Rating.
â€œDeaths and injuries from distracted driving are totally preventable,â€ says Andrew Swan, minister responsible for Manitoba Public Insurance. â€œDriving a motor vehicle requires the complete concentration of a driver, as life-saving decisions are often made in an instant. Text messaging or using a hand-held cell phone while driving are both illegal and dangerous.â€
In Manitoba, on average one in four road fatalities are linked to distracted driving.