SGI and local law enforcement are shining the Traffic Safety Spotlight on distracted driving for the month of October.
"What we're telling people is that distracted driving is illegal, dangerous, and it will cost you," explained Manager of Media Relations for SGI, Tyler McMurchy.
"Throughout the month of October, police across the province will be using a variety of tactics to catch distracted drivers in the act. This could include things like surveillance from unmarked vehicles and plain clothes officers on the sidewalk."
In Regina, officers are riding city buses in an effort to catch distracted drivers.
"It's a good opportunity to remind people that it is illegal for drivers in Saskatchewan to use, hold, manipulate or view a handheld cell phone while driving. Experienced drivers are able to use the phone while they are in control of a motor vehicle only if they do so with a mounted phone on their dash or visor and they have to use hand-free or voice activated options. the novice drivers who are in the graduated licensing program are not allowed to use a cellphone of any kind, not even hands-free."
He adds that using a cell phone even while stopped at a red light is still illegal, and dangerous.
"I think we've all seen somebody at a stoplight who is so engrossed in their phone that they don't realize that the light is turning green. So that creates a hazard for the people behind them. And also, when they finally do realize, they always try and make up ground so they stomp on the gas and speed off. That is unsafe."
"When you are behind the wheel of a vehicle, it's 4,000 lbs of glass and steel. It deserves your undivided attention."
He goes on to mention that it's not just phones that create a distraction, eating, make up and there have even been reports of people watching Netflix while driving.
"If you talk to any police officer who is out there, I'm sure they have a story about distracted driving."
There are actually two separate distracted driving laws. One specially mentions cellphone while is other is driving without due care and reasonable attention.
"They both carry the same penalty, $280 and four points on your safe driver recognition. Anything that takes your attention away from the safe operation of that motor vehicle can be dangerous and can constitute distracted driving. That includes things like changing the radio station, eating, applying make up, reading, fiddling with your GPS, or dealing with pets or children or rowdy passengers."
"When you are operating a motor vehicle, that is something that required your full an undivided attention."
He adds that if you are caught using a cell phone behind the wheel twice within a 365 period, you will face having the vehicle you are driving impounded for seven days.
"It's the vehicle you're driving. So even if it's your mom's, that's not something that I would like to have to explain to my mother, I'm sure no one else would either."
McMurchy shares these tips to keep you free from distractions on the road:
- Don't use your cellphone while driving even when you're at a red light.
- Put your phone away, silence it, put it out of reach
- Hand your phone to a friend, let them, be your "designated texter."
- Pull over if you absolutely need to make a call or return a text or deal with other distractions.
- Limit your distractions, avoid having emotional conversations while driving, don't eat or do anything other than drive.
- Be a good passenger, offer to send a text for the driver or offer to drive if they need to make a call
"Distracted driving is 100% preventable and with the $280 fine and the four points on your safe driver recognition, it's also not worth the risk especially considering that police are going to be watching extra close for distracted drivers for the entire month of October."
According to SGI, in 2016, 42 people were killed and 1,205 injured in almost 8,300 distracted collisions. Also, 15.9% of fatal crashes in 2016, were related to distracted driving, 22.2% were attributed to alcohol and 9.3% were related to speed.