SGI: News release Hey, feel like flushing $280 down the drain? Of course not. So put down the phone and #JustDrive. Because police are really good at catching distracted drivers, with between 400 and 600 drivers every month fined for being on their phones or being distracted in other ways. Distracted driving is the March Traffic Safety Spotlight and 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. If you’re on your phone, you’ll never see them coming. “Some people actually say it’s okay for them to text and drive because ‘I’m an experienced driver’ or ‘I’m good at multi-tasking,’” said Penny McCune, Chief Operating Officer of the Auto Fund. “Sorry, it just doesn’t work that way. If you text and drive, you are 23 times more likely to be in a collision. Police know how big a problem distracted driving is and have significantly upped their efforts when it comes to catching drivers. It isn’t a matter of if you’ll be caught – it’s a matter of when.” If caught using, viewing, holding or manipulating a cellphone while driving, drivers face a hefty $280 fine. You can also be fined for distracted driving if you’re distracted by something other than using a cellphone. So don’t do anything else behind the wheel if it takes your attention away from the safe operation of a vehicle. That can include things like eating, reading grooming, adjusting the radio, and tending to children or pets. Don’t you have better things to do with that $280? You could pay for a week’s worth of groceries, a night at the spa, a couple of dinners at a really nice restaurant with that special someone, or make a car payment. You could buy more than 100 double-doubles, or around 40 cartons of gourmet ice cream. On top of the initial $280 fine, each distracted driving ticket also costs you four Safe Driver Recognition (SDR) points – that means additional financial penalties or a loss of insurance discounts. If you’re in the SDR Penalty zone, each lost point costs you $50. But wait… there’s more! If the first ticket and SDR demerits don’t teach you a lesson and you receive a second cellphone ticket within a year, you get a one-week vehicle seizure, and you’ll foot the bill for towing and storage costs. (As hard as it is to believe, this actually happened 37 times in 2017. #SMH) In 2016 in Saskatchewan, 42 people were killed in collisions where distracted driving was a factor, and more than 1,200 people were injured. Statistics aren’t available yet for 2017, but if you take a look around in traffic, it’s clear there are still way too many people who haven’t gotten the message to not check their messages while driving. (It’s still a no-no even if you’re stopped at a red light – you can be ticketed. Resist the urge!) 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 function. Learner and novice drivers are not allowed to use a cellphone of any kind, not even hands-free. SGI will be running ads throughout the year reminding drivers of the importance of putting aside those distractions and just focussing on the road: Be part of the movement. Be part of the change. When you’re behind the wheel, #JustDrive. Real talk: the phone can wait. You don’t need to be plugged in at all times, and no one expects you to get back to them if that means risking your life or the lives of your passengers. Lead by example and demonstrate to your friends and family that you care more about their safety than being on your phone while driving. Follow these tips to keep our roads safe:
- Don’t use your cellphone, even at a red light – the law applies whenever you’re in control of a vehicle on a public road.
- Engage the “do not disturb while driving” feature – so those trying to reach you know you’re behind the wheel and can’t get back to them.
- Put the phone away – out of sight, out of mind. Silence your phone and put it out of reach.
- Delegate the distraction – let your passenger reply to messages and operate the radio and GPS.
- Call out friends and family – if you see them using a cellphone behind the wheel, speak up! It may save their life.
- #JustDrive – limit other distractions like eating and grooming.