SGI and police targeting distracted drivers throughout October
Oct. 1, 2015
“No one ever thinks today will be their last day on earth,” says Denton Keating, manager of Tubman Cremation and Funeral Services. “They only take their eyes off the road ‘for a second,’ but it only takes a second to do something wrong and cause catastrophic damages.”
Twenty six people were killed and nearly 600 were injured last year due to distracted driving, which often includes cellphone use behind the wheel.
Distracted driving is the traffic safety spotlight for October. Police around Saskatchewan will be watching for drivers using cellphones as well as other actions such as taking their attention off the road while eating, grooming, setting a GPS, refereeing children, etc.
Last year, there were more than 3,300 collisions in Saskatchewan related to distracted driving. It is the top contributing factor in all collisions, and the third contributing factor in fatal collisions, following impaired driving (first) and speeding (second).
“All deaths are traumatic but motor vehicle collisions seem to create trauma beyond any imagination.” says Keating. “They’re sudden, and often involve younger people. The trauma of a sudden death will spread throughout a family and even a community like a wildfire.”
Keating also observes that it isn’t just teen drivers that are texting and driving. He sees parents with little ones in the back seat, doing it too.
“They’re no longer just putting their own lives at risk, but also the lives of their children and other loved ones, not to mention the innocent victims in on-coming traffic. Survivors are then left to deal with the pain of losing someone they love over such a senseless act.”
SGI reminds motorists that when behind the wheel, your only concern should be driving. You could miss hazards or potential hazards if you’re not giving your complete attention to the road. If your head is down, you may not see that child chasing his soccer ball into the street. Without even realizing it, you could swerve out of your lane and hit someone, or end up rear-ending the driver in front. There is no room for error on the road.
To draw more attention to the issue of distracted driving, SGI has been working on a new province-wide multimedia advertising campaign. Watch for the ads starting Thanksgiving Day.
Tougher driver distraction laws have come into effect over the last few years to help combat this problem:
- Effective Jan. 1, 2010: 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.
- Effective Jan. 1, 2010: There is a $280 fine for using a cellphone while driving or driving without due care and attention. Convictions also result in four demerit points under SGI’s Safe Driver Recognition program. Depending where you sit on the safety rating scale, potential consequences of a financial penalty or loss of your insurance discount.
- Effective June 27, 2014: The vehicle you are driving will be seized for seven days on a second or subsequent offence for cellphone use within one year, and seven days on a third or subsequent offence for driving without due care and attention within one year.
In the first year following the June 2014 implementation of these new laws, 35 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.