Police watching for distracted drivers in February
Feb. 3, 2015
Sgt. Cliff Froehlich has witnessed the results of distracted driving far too many times throughout his 28-year career with the Moose Jaw Police Service.
“It’s so easy for a driver to be distracted by one thing or another - a cellphone, conversation, food, reading a map or GPS - you need to stay 100 per cent focused, 100 per cent of the time,” said Froehlich. “Distraction can result in something as little as a fender bender, or as major as a fatality. All because a driver’s attention was somewhere else.”
Distracted driving continues to be one of the top contributing factors to collisions in Saskatchewan. In 2013, there were 5,745 collisions related to distracted driving. Thirty-two people died because of drivers not paying attention, and nearly 2,000 more were injured.
This month, police across the province will be on the lookout for drivers using their cellphones to talk or text while driving, and those driving without due care and attention. Drivers are reminded that although it isn’t illegal to eat, change a radio station, put on lipgloss, etc. while driving, you can be charged if something is distracting you from driving safely.
Tougher driver distraction laws came into effect over the last few years:
- Experienced drivers are allowed to use hands-free devices while driving, but new drivers (those in the Graduated Driver’s Licensing program) cannot. SGI recommends that, even when using hands-free devices, you safely pull over to the side of the road.
- The fine for cellphone use or driving without due care and attention is $280 and results in four demerit points under SGI’s Safe Driver Recognition program. Depending where you sit on the safety rating scale, you may also have to pay a financial penalty or lose your insurance discount.
- A vehicle will be seized for seven days on a second or subsequent offence for cellphone use and seven days on a third or subsequent offence for driving without due care and attention.
Between June 27 and Dec. 31, 2014, 18 drivers had their vehicle seized for using an electronic communication device while driving or for driving without due care and attention.
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 nearly 400 motor licence issuers across the province. Customers can now do some transactions online. Look for the MySGI link under Online Services on your motor licence issuer's website or SGI's website.