Regina, Saskatchewan -- April 24, 2017 -- Distracted driving may be on the rise in Saskatchewan, according to a report from Saskatchewan Government Insurance (SGI).
March saw the most tickets issued for distracted driving since SGI began running monthly traffic safety spotlights in 2014. A total of 523 tickets were issued; 82 for driving without due care and attention and 441 for driving while using, holding, viewing or manipulating a hand-held device.
Throughout March, Saskatchewan police were also watching for drivers speeding, driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol and not being properly restrained with seatbelts or not having their child passengers in the appropriate child safety seat.
The numbers show that it’s not just distracted driving that’s a concern in the province. Violations for these offences have also increased each month in 2017:
• 4,532 speeding/aggressive driving violations
• 318 impaired driving infractions
• 453 seatbelts/child safety seats violations
Based on 2015 data, distracted driving was the leading factor in motor vehicle collisions in Saskatchewan and in second place for fatal collisions, behind impaired driving. However, more people were charged for distracted driving last month than impaired driving.
Saskatchewan strengthened its distracted driving laws in January, as reported by Collision Repair magazine.
Drivers were only forbidden from “using” a hand-held device under the previous regulation. The current law is less vague, and forbids drivers from “using, viewing, holding or manipulating” a hand-held device. Learner and novice drivers are not allowed to use a cellphone of any kind, not even hands-free. Experienced drivers are permitted to use hands-free phones if they are activated with voice commands or one-touch, and are dashboard, visor or cradle mounted.
The first offence carries a fine of $280. Committing a second offence in the same year sees the fine repeated, but also results in the vehicle being impounded for seven days.