The Saskatchewan government hopes tougher fines will reduce the number of distracted drivers in the province. Starting February 1, he penalties for distracted driving in the province are going up.
According to a new report from National Post, the first offence for distracted driving will go from $280 CAD to $580. After a conviction, the penalties escalate for a second offence within a calendar year.
The penalty would be a $1,400 fine, plus another four demerit points and a week-long vehicle impound at the owner’s expense.
Should drivers commit a third offence, the ticket would be $2,100 and another four demerits, “which at this point you’re probably on the negative side of the safe driver recognition scale. You’re looking at paying an additional financial penalty,” says Tyler McMurchy with Saskatchewan Government Insurance.
In 2018, Saskatchewan Government Insurance saw 6,000 collisions, 774 injuries, and 22 deaths as a result of distracted driving.
McMurchy said the vast majority of these fines come from cellphone use behind the wheel.
“If people can keep their phone out of their hand, and keep from watching videos on it and scrolling through and typing on it, they’ve already substantially reduced their chances of getting one of these big tickets,” McMurchy explained.
“The message really has to go out that distracted driving has been a bad idea,” he continued. “It’s a leading cause of collision, injuries and deaths on Saskatchewan roads, but the penalties are about to get much harder.”
SGI said for the first 10 months of 2019, the monthly average was nearly 900, with October being the busiest when 1,290 distracted driving tickets were issued.
Officials say it is too soon to draw any conclusion about what the data means but are hoping people will continue to drive without any distractions.