Canadian Underwriter

Tougher laws a mere distraction for cell-using drivers

December 19, 2017   by Canadian Underwriter

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Distracted driving offences in Saskatchewan were at an all-time high in November 2017, despite the government’s attempts to toughen the laws around driving with a cellphone.

“Police reported a whopping 636 distracted driving offences during the November [Traffic Safety Spotlight], 554 of which were related to cellphone use,” Saskatchewan Government Insurance reported. “Yikes!”

SGI said it has seen an increase in distracted driving tickets since the provincial cellphone law was strengthened at the start of 2017. But the numbers in November 2018 are “by far the highest numbers reported in a single month in the history of Traffic Safety Spotlights.”

While distracted driving is the Number 1 cause of collisions and injuries on Saskatchewan roads, it carries only a $280 fine.

The government tightened its distracted driving laws by further restricting what people are allowed to do with their cellphone while driving.

Under the new law, for example, drivers are prohibited from holding, viewing, using or manipulating a cellphone while driving. Previously the law simply prohibited drivers from using a cellphone while driving.

Hand-held mobile devices have always been prohibited for both new and experienced drivers. New drivers, meaning anyone in a Graduated Driver Licensing program, can’t use hands-free cellphones either. Experienced drivers can use hands-free cellphones if they are activated with voice commands or one-touch, and are dashboard, visor- or cradle-mounted.

SGI notes that hundreds of drivers pulled over for the November Traffic Safety Spotlight “were caught driving with suspended licences or operating vehicles without valid insurance.” Police reported 302 offences by people driving while suspended or disqualified.

Other notable offences in November are recorded as follows:

  • 209 impaired-driving related offences (including 202 Criminal Code charges);
  • 334 tickets for inappropriate or no seatbelt/child safety seat;
  • 3,741 speeding tickets.