Texting and hand-held cellphone use while driving to be banned
November 12, 2009
The Saskatchewan government is fulfilling its commitment to make provincial roadways safer by introducing legislation to ban texting and talking on hand-held cellphones while driving.
Saskatchewan Government Insurance (SGI) Minister June Draude introduced the new law today in the Legislative Assembly. Draude said distracted driving is a serious road safety issue.
"Using a cellphone to talk or text is a dangerous distraction," Draude said. "Recent research found that a person who is texting while driving is 23 times more likely to be involved in a collision than a non-distracted driver."
The new law prohibits all drivers from using hand-held cellphones to talk, text, email or surf the Internet while driving.
Experienced drivers will be allowed to use hands-free devices while driving. New drivers, meaning drivers in Saskatchewan's Graduated Driver's Licensing program, cannot use cellphones of any type while operating a motor vehicle.
If passed during the current fall legislative sitting, the new law will take effect on Jan. 1, 2010.
The penalty for an offence associated with this law will be $280, which includes a victims' surcharge of $60, and four demerit points under the Safe Driver Recognition and Driver Improvement programs.
Dale McFee, Chief of the Prince Albert Police Service and President of the Saskatchewan Association of Chiefs of Police, said the Association supports the new law.
"When we hear the facts showing that a person is 23 times more likely to be in a collision when texting and driving, and when we have responded to collisions like these that have led to serious injury and death, it is easy to see why we need this type of action to enhance safety," McFee said.
Police, fire and medical services personnel will be exempt from the new law while performing their duties. Drivers making a 911 call to report an emergency are also exempt.
Saskatchewan now joins a number of Canadian jurisdictions, American states and over 50 countries world-wide that have similar cellphone bans.
Saskatchewan Government Insurance (SGI) is the province's self-sustaining auto insurance fund. SGI operates 21 claims centres and five salvage centres across Saskatchewan with a head office in Regina. SGI also works with a network of over 400 motor licence issuers across the province.