Taking a few moments to pull over and send a text or take a phone call could prevent serious collisions and big fines.
SGI, along with police across the province are putting a spotlight on distracted driving this month.
In 2016 in Saskatchewan, 8,300 collisions were attributed to distracted driving: 1,205 people were injured and 42 died.
According to SGI, it is illegal for drivers in Saskatchewan to use, view, hold or manipulate a cellphone while driving – even at a stop sign or red light. Picking up an item that from the vehicle floor, smoking, eating, and even changing the radio station are all examples of distracted driving as well.
Sgt. Ryan How of the Meadow Lake RCMP said the local detachment distracted driving is a part of the traffic component of their annual performance plan. He said it is an ongoing issue – one that isn’t unique to one demographic or area.
“We believe that this problem, similar to impaired driving is well beyond the education phase and [we] rely on enforcement to curb the problem,” he said. “However, even the increased penalties aren't making a difference.”
Under the Traffic Safety Act, the penalty for distracted driving is $280, and four demerit points. A vehicle can be impounded if a second offence is committed within a year.
While there haven't been any serious collisions directly attributed to cellphone use in the area lately, How said the detachment receives regular complaints from the public.
“Bluetooth sets, other hands-free devices, and simply pulling over safely are all options,” he said. “I believe the public is very aware of the options available to them.”
Only experienced drivers can only use a cellphone if it is mounted and equipped with voice-activated or one-touch functions.
Joe Hallahan, Community Safety Officer with the City of Meadow Lake also agrees that distracted driving is preventable.
“I would suggest that people put their phones on silent, so that they are not tempted to look at their phones while they drive,” he said.
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