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Distracted driving target of SGI March traffic safety spotlight

Click to play video 'How Regina police are targeting distracted drivers with ‘Operation Bus Cop’' How Regina police are targeting distracted drivers with ‘Operation Bus Cop’
WATCH ABOVE: Regina police are taking a new approach to ensure drivers keep their phones out of reach.

Distracted driving is the second-leading factor of fatal crashes in Saskatchewan.

As part of Saskatchewan Government Insurance’s (SGI) traffic safety spotlight, police will be targeting distracted drivers during March.

READ MORE: Distracted driving message hits home with students

This not only includes drivers using or holding cellphones, but those eating, putting on makeup, or programming a GPS.

“When you’re behind the wheel, you’re responsible for thousands of pounds of glass and steel,” Earl Cameron, the executive vice-president of SGI’s auto fund, said.

“At road speeds, a quick lapse in attention can come with a lifetime of consequences. The next time you have the urge to do anything but drive while behind the wheel, ask yourself if that distraction is really worth it.”

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According to SGI statistics, there were nearly 5,700 distracted driving collisions in 2015, killing 36 people and injuring 802.

In Regina, police will be riding transit buses during the month looking for distracted drivers.

READ MORE: Regina police riding bus to target distracted drivers

While there are no plans to do the same in Saskatoon, police Chief Clive Weighill said there are other ways officers in the city are catching distracted drivers.

“We’re very fortunate that we’ve got quite a few SUV’s in our fleet, so that puts them up a little bit higher and many are unmarked, so we have quite a good vantage point.”

Distracted driving laws have been strengthened in the province.

READ MORE: New Saskatchewan impaired driving and distracted driving laws in effect Jan. 1

Drivers can no longer use, hold, view or otherwise manipulate mobile devices while behind the wheel.

The fine is $280 along with four demerit points. Repeat offenders could have their vehicle seized for seven days.

While experienced drivers are allowed to use hands-free cellphones, new drivers in the graduated licensing program are prohibited from hands-free uses.

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