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Record number of distracted driving offences in October: SGI
Published Tuesday, November 27, 2018 6:01PM CST
Last Updated Tuesday, November 27, 2018 7:02PM CST
Distracted driving continues to be a problem on Saskatchewan roads, and that’s backed up by new numbers from SGI.
But these stats don’t show an increase in crashes, injuries or fatalities caused by driving distracted. Instead, they show more tickets are being handed out by police across the province.
“High offence numbers are a reflection of enforcement,” said Tyler McMurchy with SGI. “We know there’s more traffic police out there than there have ever been, and they are very focused on distracted driving. They’re using creative and innovative ways to catch distracted drivers in the act.”
The record breaking numbers come from the month of October, when distracted driving was the focus of an SGI “Traffic Safety Spotlight”. The total number of tickets handed out is 793, which breaks down to 688 cellphone tickets and 105 for other distractions. It marks the highest number of tickets ever handed out for any "Traffic Safety Spotlight" in the four year history of the program, breaking the previous record of 711 distracted driving offences in March.
Joe Hargrave, the Minister in Charge of SGI is calling these stats “unacceptable”.
“688 fines? That’s ridiculous,” Hargrave said. “We advertise it all the time, people talk about distracted driving, there’s been so many deaths on our highways. It’s the second leading cause of deaths on the highways.”
In addition to public awareness campaigns, each ticket carries a stiff fine of $280 and four points off your license, and worse if you’re charged again within a certain time frame.
“If you get a second cell phone ticket within twelve months of being convicted on your first one, you’ll get your vehicle impounded for a week,” McMurchy said.
“You would think that those would be powerful enough to persuade people to leave their cell phones in their back seat and not be distracted by something else when they’re operating a motor vehicle,” said Elizabeth Popowich with the Regina Police Service.
SGI does add if less people were driving distracted, there would be less need for police to hand out hundreds of tickets.
“There are drivers who are getting the message and the ones who aren’t are getting $280 tickets and four points on their license, and we saw a lot of that happening this past month,” McMurchy said.
It’s a sign too many drivers are still choosing to get the wrong message, like the ones coming in on their phones.
The province says they haven’t ruled out taking further action in an effort to curb distracted driving.