By: Luke Jones, Published on November 27, 2017 09:33 AM, Last Update on November 27, 2017 06:34 AM
Saskatchewan has gone to war on distracted driving, but it is a war that is being lost. Despite introducing a Safe Driver Recognition program through Saskatchewan Government Insurance (SGI) and upping the penalty to a $280 fine and four demerit points, distracted driving continues to rise in the province.
Indeed, it is still the leading cause of all traffic collisions in Saskatchewan. During the SGI October traffic safety spotlight, police in the province issued 486 tickets for distracted driving. 391 of these tickets were for cellphone use, highlighting the problem authorities face in stopping drivers from using devices behind the wheel.
SGI records show police also reported 4,286 tickets for speeding/aggressive driving, 310 impaired driving offences and 323 tickets from improper use of seatbelts or child car seats.
The Crown corporation public insurance provider also points out fatalities and injuries from distracted driving have increased consistently over the last three years. In 2016, distracted driving played a role in nearly 8,300 collisions and was a factor in 42 deaths and more than 1,200 injuries.
Saskatchewan government organizations have tried to clamp down on distracted driving. On Jan. 1, 2017, new legislation was introduced to strengthen laws. Drivers are now prohibited from viewing, holding, or manipulating a mobile device while operating their vehicle. This law also includes hands-free systems.
Drivers caught using a cellphone get the new penalties mentioned above for a first offence. Being cause for a second time within a year will result in the vehicle being seized for seven days.