Distracted driving involves more than calling or texting: SGI

Saskatchewan Government Insurance announced last week that penalties for distracted driving will go up to $580 for a first-time offence starting in February.

While many believe it’s only for talking or texting on a cellphone while behind the wheel, drivers can also get ticketed for doing other things under a law that isn’t distracted driving.

Being charged with driving without due care and attention will also land you a $580 ticket.

“Driving without due care and attention simply means if you are engaged in any activity that takes your attention away from the safe operation of that motor vehicle and a police officer can note that you were perhaps swerving around,” explained Tyler McMurchy, spokesperson for SGI.

McMurchy mentioned how the strengthening of these penalties have prompted people to start asking about what they can and can’t do when they are behind the wheel. Questions from can a driver take a drink of water or are they allowed to switch the radio station.

He said these actions are fine as long as the driver has a hand on the steering wheel and they are paying attention to the road. But it depends what the activity is.

Some of those things might include reaching for an item in your purse, handing something to someone in the backseat or holding a drink or food in their lap – actions which take your view away from the road.

At the end of the day, McMurchy said the message is simple. “You need to focus on the safe operation of that motor vehicle and anything other than that can potentially be dangerous.”

He added if police can prove that doing something other than talking and texting is making you a danger on the road, you will be stopped and ticketed.

SGI put together a 32-minute video on their Facebook page to answer questions about distracted driving. Watch the full video below.

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