There are a lot more crude ways to say it, but stuff just got real in Saskatchewan.

Distracted driving penalties are way up and the government has taken the bold step to treat it similarly as impaired driving… because that’s what it is. 

It is the leading cause of collisions in Saskatchewan. 

Texting and driving or anything which takes your focus away (please see related stories on Page 12) harms your ability to drive. As of February 2020, distracted driving charges are going to hit penalized drivers very hard. 

The SGI campaign sees fines go way up, I mean, waaaaay up.  First offence - $580 ticket plus four demerits. Second offence within a year of being convicted of the first - $1,400 ticket, plus an additional four demerits, plus an immediate, seven-day vehicle seizure. Vehicle owners are responsible for the towing and impound fees (cost varies according to mileage, but expect to pay approximately $400 at least). Third offence within a year of conviction of the first - $2,100 ticket, plus four more demerits and another seven-day vehicle seizure.

Good on the government for doing it. 

The cries of civil libertarians saying this is a heavy-handed money grab; government infringing on their rights as drivers/citizens or in some way a hindrance to their lives. 

There may also be some who may complain they have to be on their phones because of their employment. There’s no time to waste by having to get one place to another without talking on the phone. 

Emergencies? Well…

The biggest problem I see with the legislation is that lawyers are already digging into the exact wording  so as to be the first to set a precedent and challenge its authority the first time a driver wants to be the first to go to court to fight a ticket he was changing on his iTunes.

There is also the question of what’s happening with Saskatchewan’s neighbours to the west.

Some may point to the fact that in Alberta, the government made an announcement Nov. 27 that they were putting on a temporary freeze on purchasing new photo radar equipment. 

“Effective Dec. 1, 2019, municipalities and police agencies will not be able to install new or upgraded photo radar devices or deploy existing photo radar equipment to new locations,” reads the release. You can hear the people stretching their arms to throw those red herrings out.  All of the criticisms of the new Saskatchewan distracted driving penalties are mute.

The fact is SGI came out with a strong advertising campaign to tell drivers not to text and drive or remember to focus on the road. Yet if drivers just followed the law, there wouldn’t have been a new all time record set of distracted driving infractions set: a whopping 1290 in October alone.  1148 of those were for cell phones. In 2018, 22 people died because of distracted driving and there were 774 injuries. 

That’s too many, plain and simple. If those new fines and penalties aren’t a deterrent, there is no hope. Focus on that.

Ryan Dahlman is managing editor of Prairie Post and Prairie Post West

By Ryan Dahlman

There are a lot more crude ways to say it, but stuff just got real in Saskatchewan.

Distracted driving penalties are way up and the government has taken the bold step to treat it similarly as impaired driving… because that’s what it is. 

It is the leading cause of collisions in Saskatchewan. 

Texting and driving or anything which takes your focus away (please see related stories on Page 12) harms your ability to drive. As of February 2020, distracted driving charges are going to hit penalized drivers very hard. 

The SGI campaign sees fines go way up, I mean, waaaaay up.  First offence - $580 ticket plus four demerits. Second offence within a year of being convicted of the first - $1,400 ticket, plus an additional four demerits, plus an immediate, seven-day vehicle seizure. Vehicle owners are responsible for the towing and impound fees (cost varies according to mileage, but expect to pay approximately $400 at least). Third offence within a year of conviction of the first - $2,100 ticket, plus four more demerits and another seven-day vehicle seizure.

Good on the government for doing it. 

The cries of civil libertarians saying this is a heavy-handed money grab; government infringing on their rights as drivers/citizens or in some way a hindrance to their lives. 

There may also be some who may complain they have to be on their phones because of their employment. There’s no time to waste by having to get one place to another without talking on the phone. 

Emergencies? Well…

The biggest problem I see with the legislation is that lawyers are already digging into the exact wording  so as to be the first to set a precedent and challenge its authority the first time a driver wants to be the first to go to court to fight a ticket he was changing on his iTunes.

There is also the question of what’s happening with Saskatchewan’s neighbours to the west.

Some may point to the fact that in Alberta, the government made an announcement Nov. 27 that they were putting on a temporary freeze on purchasing new photo radar equipment. 

“Effective Dec. 1, 2019, municipalities and police agencies will not be able to install new or upgraded photo radar devices or deploy existing photo radar equipment to new locations,” reads the release. You can hear the people stretching their arms to throw those red herrings out.  All of the criticisms of the new Saskatchewan distracted driving penalties are mute.

The fact is SGI came out with a strong advertising campaign to tell drivers not to text and drive or remember to focus on the road. Yet if drivers just followed the law, there wouldn’t have been a new all time record set of distracted driving infractions set: a whopping 1290 in October alone.  1148 of those were for cell phones. In 2018, 22 people died because of distracted driving and there were 774 injuries. 

That’s too many, plain and simple. If those new fines and penalties aren’t a deterrent, there is no hope. Focus on that.

Ryan Dahlman is managing editor of Prairie Post and Prairie Post West

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