Distracted driving kills -- a message Saskatchewan Government Insurance is focused on spreading this week.
‚ÄúIn 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,‚ÄĚ SGI spokesperson Kelley Brinkworth said this week.
‚ÄúSo, not only is it the No. 1 contributor of fatal crashes in the province, but it‚Äôs the No. 1 contributing factor to all crashes in the province, as well.‚ÄĚ
In 2012, these statistics represented 7,500 collisions related to distracted driving, which resulted in 69 deaths and 2,503 injuries.
‚ÄúIn spite of enforcement efforts and significant penalties, people are still making dangerous choices,‚ÄĚ said Troy Hagen, president of the Saskatchewan Association of Chiefs of Police, in a release.
‚ÄúIt‚Äôs really getting worse rather than better,‚ÄĚ Brinkworth said. ‚ÄúYou‚Äôre not just risking your safety if you make that choice, you‚Äôre risking the safety of all road users.‚ÄĚ
Last year, the province‚Äôs 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 ‚ÄúBasically ‚Ä¶ anything that‚Äôs taking your focus off the road,‚ÄĚ 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 ‚Äúwhen you are in control of a motor vehicle,‚ÄĚ 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.
‚ÄúIt‚Äôs past time for an attitude shift,‚ÄĚ SGI president and CEO Andrew Cartmell said in a release. ‚ÄúDistracted driving is causing more crashes than even impaired driving.‚ÄĚ