Texting, eating and adult videos: What police say drivers are doing instead of focusing on the road
REGINA -- For those who drive distracted, the penalties are about to get a lot tougher in Saskatchewan.
On Tuesday, the province announced a $580 ticket for a driver's first offence for distracted driving, $1,400 for a second offence and $2,100 for a third offence starting Feb. 1, 2020. Those fines come with the loss of four demerit points and the second and third offence will result in a seven day vehicle.
"There was a gentleman watching adult videos while he was driving,” Cst. Mike Seel said. “Probably the most ridiculous one I saw was a lady who was stopped at a red light on one cell phone then sets it down picks up another phone out of her purse looks at that sets is down and then picks up another phone out of her purse. I don’t know why you’d ever need to be on one phone let alone three phones while driving."
Cst. Seel with the Regina Police Service, also known as “Hawkeye”, has already given out 1,290 tickets for distracted driving this year.
In 2018 he issued 1,130.
He said people need to realize distracted driving isn’t limited to using their cell phone it's anything that causes you to drive without due care and attention.
“I honestly think it’s a little bit of cell phone addiction,” Seel said. “People expect a very quick response, whether it’s the people on the other end calling constantly or texting constantly saying ‘what are you doing?’ ‘Why aren’t you responding?’ Or people just don’t want to pay attention to the road.”
SGI has released a new ad campaign demonstrating the consequences of distracted driving. It said a driver won’t be getting a ticket if they’re taking a sip of water or changing the radio station, but they will if they’re not paying attention to the road.
"You couldn’t write a law that would cover every possible distracted driving activity,” Tyler McMurchy with SGI said. “People need to keep in mind their primary job when they're driving, is driving."
In 2018, 22 people died in Saskatchewan because of distracted driving. SGI and Seel are hoping the increased fines will make people think twice before get distracted on the roadway.
“It’s very easy to lose focus for a brief moment, but if you’re in a vehicle travelling 110 kilometers an hour, you travel quiet a distance if you are not watching the road for three seconds,” McMurchy said. “A moment of inattention can be potentially fatal and so we want people to think about that and think about the things that may distract them. It can be different for different people.”
On Tuesday, SGI and Seel released a video discussing various questions people might have about the new fines and distracted driving.