Canadian Underwriter

Insurer reveals distracted driving punishment statistics

March 5, 2019   by Greg Meckbach

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Saskatchewan police impounded 87 vehicles because the driver was distracted, the province’s auto insurer announced.

It is illegal in Saskatchewan to hold, view or manipulate an electronic communication device while driving. There is an immediate roadside vehicle impoundment if the driver is caught for the second time in a year, Saskatchewan Government Insurance noted Feb. 28 in a release.

“In 2018, 87 people found out the hard way as they saw their vehicle towed away for a week’s stay at a local impound lot. That is, by far, the highest number of seven-day cellphone ticket impoundments imposed since it became the law,” Penny McCune, chief operating officer of the Auto Fund, stated in a release.

One of those second-time offenders was Laura Anaka, who got a second ticket two months after her first.

“She’s not proud of it, but has graciously allowed SGI to share her story,” SGI said of Anaka, who works full time, goes to university and has a three-year old daughter.

“I had to bum rides from my friends just to go to the grocery store and I was constantly switching out a car seat into different friends’ vehicles just so I could get my daughter to daycare,” Anaka stated in an SGI release.

In Ontario, tougher penalties for distracted driving – a minimum $500 fine and a three-day licence suspension for first-time offenders – took effect Jan. 1

“We hope this is going to serve as a deterrent,” CAA SCO government relations manager Elliott Silverstein told Canadian Underwriter earlier, commenting on Ontario’s new distracted driving penalties. “It’s not going to change behaviour overnight but we have only seen the growth of the smart phone over the last five to 10 years.”

In Saskatchewan, the immediate roadside vehicle impoundment means the vehicle is towed from roadside and impounded for seven days, while the owner is stuck with the bill for towing and storage – usually $400, SGI warned Feb. 28.

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