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Distracted driving leading cause of collisions in Saskatchewan

Click to play video: 'SGI and police plan intensive program to crack down on distracted driving' SGI and police plan intensive program to crack down on distracted driving
WATCH ABOVE: The number one cause of vehicle collisions in Saskatchewan is distracted driving and can involve texting, eating, putting on make-up, and in at least one case even watching a movie while driving. Doug Roxburgh reports – Oct 3, 2017

There were roughly 8,300 collisions in Saskatchewan during 2016 in which distracted driving was a factor.

Saskatchewan Government Insurance (SGI) officials said it was the number one factor in all collisions in the province and the second leading cause of fatal crashes next to impaired driving.

READ MORE: Distracted driving ticket record set in Saskatchewan

The numbers from SGI also found that fatalities, injuries and collisions have increased in each of the last three years due to distracted drivers.

Those are the reasons why police will be targeting distracted drivers during October’s SGI traffic safety spotlight.

“Drivers are still not getting the message,” Saskatoon police Supt. Brian Shalovelo said.

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“If you are in control of a vehicle, anything that takes your attention away from the road is dangerous.”

WATCH BELOW: Global News reporter Doug Roxburgh has some issues trying to drive while distracted

Click to play video: 'SGI distracted driving demonstration' SGI distracted driving demonstration
SGI distracted driving demonstration – Oct 4, 2017

Shalovelo said distracted driving goes beyond drivers using their cellphones or texting and driving.

“If someone says they were picking up a CD on the floor when they lost control, that is distracted driving. Changing the radio station, smoking a cigarette, reading a map or your mail – these are all examples of how a driver can be distracted,” Shalovelo said.

Fines for distracted driving are $280 along with four demerit points.

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A second violation within a year can result in a vehicle being impounded for seven days.

READ MORE: More work needed to end distracted driving

“The message is simple: put the phone away and encourage your friends and family to do the same,” Earl Cameron, the executive vice-president of SGI’s auto fund, said.

“Put it out of reach in your glove box, zip it up in your purse and put it in the back seat, or mount it on your dashboard and use it hands-free if you’re an experienced driver.”

Regina police Chief Evan Bray said the average vehicle weighs over four-thousand pounds, which can be lethal in a collision.

That is two tons of comfort and convenience to get you to your destination…or its two tons of steel and glass that can take your life, or someone else’s, if you lose control,” Bray said.

“Is there any text message, photo or music selection in the world that could be more important than a human life?”

READ MORE: Sask. distracted driving charges up 197 per cent over 2016

Saskatchewan changed its distracted driving laws at the beginning of the year, making it illegal to even hold a phone while driving, or stopped at a red light.

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The law was also changed to make it illegal for learner and novice drivers to use a cellphone hands-free in a vehicle.

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