Saskatoon makes up less than one quarter of Saskatchewan’s population, but the city’s police service handed out nearly half of the province’s distracted driving tickets for mobile phones in 2018.
Last year, Saskatoon Police Service (SPS) officers gave more than 3,400 tickets to drivers for cell phone violations.
“They’re addicted to that instant gratification that a text message brings or the need for instant information,” said Staff Sgt. Patrick Barbar, the head of the SPS traffic unit.
Saskatoon accounted for 46 per cent of cell phone tickets handed out in Saskatchewan last year. Saskatchewan Government Insurance (SGI) recorded more than 7,300 tickets for drivers using mobile devices.
Regina saw nearly 1,800 cell phone tickets, representing 24 per cent of those issued in the province. Meanwhile, 30 per cent of drivers distracted by phones were caught by other police agencies.
“I think it’s not so much that people aren’t aware of the fact they can’t use their phones. I think that’s very well-known,” Barbar said.
“I think it’s that they have a hard time not doing it.”
Saskatoon has the largest police traffic section in the province, Barbar said.
Police consider distracted driving one of the ‘fatal four’ factors, which also includes speeding, unrestrained occupants, and impaired driving.
“Those are the four things that cause the most loss of life and those are the four priorities of the Saskatoon Police Service in terms of traffic enforcement,” Barbar said.
Distracted driving is the leading cause of crashes in Saskatchewan and among the top three contributing factors in fatal collisions, according to SGI.
In 2017, distracted drivers caused more than 6,000 collisions, resulting in 953 injuries and 26 deaths.
People caught driving without due care face a $280 ticket and four demerit points under the Safe Driver Recognition and Driver Improvement programs.
If a person is caught three times in one year, the vehicle can be seized for seven days.
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