Distracted driving has caused more fatal crashes in Saskatchewan in the past two years than impaired driving.
“It’s also the number one contributing factor in just all collisions in general,” said Kelley Brinkworth, media relations for SGI.
Police across the province are on the lookout for distracted drivers for the rest of February.
Awareness and enforcement have become common occurrences in the province.
Despite traffic blitzes and SGI campaigns, the message about the dangers of distracted driving doesn’t seem to be resonating.
“The reason we keep doing it is because it is such a serious issue,” Brinkworth said. “It seems to be getting worse instead of better.”
In 2012, there were more than 7,500 collisions related to distracted driving, resulting in 69 deaths and 2,503 injuries.
Cellphone legislation and driving without due care and attention are the two provincial laws that address driver distraction. The fine for violating either law is $280 and four demerit points under SGI’s Safe Driver Recognition program. Brinkworth said, depending where a motorist sits on the safety rating scale, they may also have to pay a financial penalty or lose insurance discounts.
Looking at a map, reading a newspaper, eating, applying makeup and using a GPS device can all count as distracted driving.
Moose Jaw drivers aren’t any different from those in the rest of the province, said Sgt. Cliff Froehlich with the Moose Jaw Police Service.
“There’s laws that say that you can’t use your communication device while driving, but you hear your phone ring or you see it ring, you pull over, you answer your phone and you go from there,” Froehlich said. “It’s pretty basic stuff.”
He said a lot of people involved in collisions who are on their phones or distracted in any other way don’t confess to police that they were distracted or on their phone.
Froehlich said a second of not watching the road is all it takes to lose control of the vehicle or collide into another vehicle.
He said through a combination education and enforcement, eventually the message will get through to everyone.
“If there was a serious, serious collision or a death for a driving without due care and attention, we can also just send the driver to court and we would give brief circumstances to the court and to the judge as to what the incident entailed and then the judge would make a decision as to what the fine amount should be,” Froehlich said.