Saskatchewan Government Insurance (SGI) says it has a message for drivers as the province continues to reopen from the coronavirus pandemic: put your phone away when you get behind the wheel.
“Focus on the road; physically distance yourself from your phone while driving,” SGI said Monday in a news release.
“We’ve all spent the last several months looking out for each other. Let’s maintain that mindset when we get in the driver’s seat.”
According to SGI statistics, distracted driving is one of the leading factors in collisions, injuries and fatalities on Saskatchewan roads.
In 2018, SGI said distracted driving was a factor in over 6,000 collisions, resulting in 22 deaths and 774 injuries.
“The June traffic spotlight on distracted driving coincides with Saskatchewan gradually reopening; drivers can expect more traffic, along with greater numbers of motorcyclists, cyclists and pedestrians taking advantage of the nicer weather,” said Penny McCune, chief operating officer of the Auto Fund.
“We encourage drivers to keep their focus on the road by avoiding their phones and other distractions.”
Distracted driving is not limited to holding, viewing, using or manipulating a hand-held phone while driving, SGI said.
It includes driving without due care and attention if a police officer witnesses behaviour they believe is taking a driver’s attention away from the road.
Fines for distracted driving in Saskatchewan went up on Feb. 1.
A first offence nets a fine of $580 along with four demerit points.
A second offence within a year of a first conviction will cost $1,400. Third and subsequent offences within a year will result in a $2,100 ticket. In each case, the driver will also lose an additional four demerit points for each offence.
Vehicles will be seized immediately for seven days following second and subsequent offences, and vehicle owners are responsible for towing and impound costs — roughly $400.