SGI narrows in on the deadly act of distracted driving

Tyler Clarke
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Distracted driving kills -- a message Saskatchewan Government Insurance is focused on spreading this week.


“In 2012, 38 per cent of all fatal crashes were related to distracted driving, and about a quarter of all crashes in the province are related to distracted driving,” SGI spokesperson Kelley Brinkworth said this week.

“So, not only is it the No. 1 contributor of fatal crashes in the province, but it’s the No. 1 contributing factor to all crashes in the province, as well.”

In 2012, these statistics represented 7,500 collisions related to distracted driving, which resulted in 69 deaths and 2,503 injuries.

“In spite of enforcement efforts and significant penalties, people are still making dangerous choices,” said Troy Hagen, president of the Saskatchewan Association of Chiefs of Police, in a release.

“It’s really getting worse rather than better,” Brinkworth said. “You’re not just risking your safety if you make that choice, you’re risking the safety of all road users.”

Last year, the province’s non-partisan traffic safety committee, chaired by Prince Albert Carlton MLA Darryl Hickie, concluded that SGI should raise the awareness about distracted driving.

Therefore, throughout February, the government insurance organization will be doing what they can to raise the profile of distracted driving, be it through media blitzes or the online sharing of statistics and information, Brinkworth said.

Distracted driving is “Basically … anything that’s taking your focus off the road,” she explained, noting that those who drive while distracted face two different potential charges.

One is related to cellphone use and the other is driving without due care and attention. Either can result in a charge of $280 and four demerit points.

Although hands-free cell phones are allowed use for most user groups, those under the graduated licence program are not permitted to use any cellular device, Brinkley said.

Despite popular belief, texting or answering phone calls at stop signs or stop lights are not permitted, as cell phones are not allowed “when you are in control of a motor vehicle,” Brinkley said.

When one must send a text or make a phone call, Brinkley encourages people to pull over to the side of the road before doing so.

“It’s past time for an attitude shift,” SGI president and CEO Andrew Cartmell said in a release. “Distracted driving is causing more crashes than even impaired driving.”

Organizations: Saskatchewan Association of Chiefs of Police

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Recent comments

  • Concerned Grandmother
    February 07, 2014 - 19:30

    It is about time these phone users are charged. We have an epidemic of people driving and phoning at the same time. I also want to add that never have I seen so many people running red lights as this winter. It is not just yellow lights- it is red lights. These people need a huge fine and if they are caught doing it again they should lose their license for awhile.