SGI and Saskatchewan’s police services are once again stepping up efforts to curb distracted driving.
They’ve made it their traffic safety spotlight for the month of March.
Officers across the province will be on the lookout for drivers using cellphones behind the wheel — whether they’re making calls, sending texts or scrolling social media.
The safety focus also extends to other activities that can distract drivers, like eating, putting on makeup or programming a GPS.
“When you’re behind the wheel, you’re responsible for thousands of pounds of glass and steel,” said Earl Cameron, executive vice-president of the SGI auto fund, in a media release. “At road speeds, a quick lapse in attention can come with a lifetime of consequences. The next time you have the urge to do anything but drive behind the wheel, ask yourself if that distraction is relaly worth it.”
SGI said distracted driving remained the top contributing factor in collisions on the province’s roads.
In 2015, distracted driving caused 5,700 crashes in Saskatchewan, injuring 802 people and killing 36, according to SGI.
Currently, the penalty for distracted driving is a $280 fine and four demerits. Repeat offenders also face a seven-day vehicle seizure. New drivers are not allowed to use either handheld or hands-free devices.
As of Jan. 1, 2017, drivers in Saskatchewan are not allowed to use, view, hold or manipulate mobile devices while behind the wheel. Experienced drivers can use hands-free devices if they’re activated with voice commands or one-touch and are mounted on the dashboard.
January focus on drunk driving
In January, SGI and police focused on impaired driving for the fourth consecutive month.
Seven people were charged with having a blood alcohol content (BAC) between .04-.08. Another 269 people were charged with exceeding .08 BAC, impaired driving or refusing to provide a breath sample.