Police in Saskatchewan will be paying extra attention to distracted drivers in October.

Throughout the month, police across the province will be using a variety of tactics to catch distracted drivers in the act, including surveillance from unmarked vehicles and plainclothes officers on the sidewalks.

In Regina, police officers will once again ride transit buses to catch distracted drivers as part of Operation Bus Cop.

Police will be on the lookout for people using handheld cellphones to talk, text, email or browse online while driving. But police say distracted driving isn’t just limited to using a phone.

“Drivers are still not getting the message. If you are in control of a vehicle, anything that takes your attention away from the road is dangerous,” Saskatoon police Supt. Brian Shalovelo said in a Saskatchewan Government Insurance news release.

“If someone says they were picking up a CD on the floor when they lost control, that is distracted driving. Changing the radio station, smoking a cigarette, reading a map or your mail – these are all examples of how a driver can be distracted. We’ve even seen people watching Netflix while driving.”

It is illegal for drivers in Saskatchewan to use, view, hold or manipulate a cellphone while driving. That means even if you’re simply holding a cellphone and not using it, you can still be charged.

The penalty for distracted driving is a $280 fine and four demerit points. Drivers caught using their cellphone while driving for the second time within one year will have the vehicle they are driving seized for seven days.

“The average car or lightweight truck weighs over four thousand pounds,” said Regina Police Chief Evan Bray.

“That is two tons of comfort and convenience to get you to your destination…or it’s two tons of steel and glass that can take your life, or someone else’s, if you lose control. Is there any text message, photo or music selection in the world that could be more important than a human life?”

Experienced drivers can only use a cellphone if it is mounted to their visor or dash, and they use the voice-activated or one-touch functions. Learner and novice drivers are not allowed to use a cellphone of any kind, not even hands-free.

“The message is simple: put the phone away and encourage your friends and family to do the same,” said Earl Cameron, executive vice-president of the SGI Auto Fund.

“Put it out of reach in your glove box, zip it up in your purse and put it in the back seat, or mount it on your dashboard and use it hands-free if you’re an experienced driver. We all have a responsibility to make safe choices behind the wheel."