Increase in distracted driving fines takes effect Saturday

Starting Saturday, fines for distracted driving in Saskatchewan will more than double.

Fines will go up to $580 for a first offence of the year, $1,400 for a second and $2,100 for each one after that in a year. On top of that, drivers will lose four demerit points for each offence.

SGI minister Joe Hargrave said the increase in fines have already had an impact.

“We’ve seen the numbers come down just since we announced it, the number of tickets that have been issued, talking with different police, they’re noticing it as well,” Hargrave said. “The awareness campaign that we’ve had to say it’s coming has been very effective, very strong, very in-your-face.”

Hargrave said he hears people talking about the increase.

“Where ever I go, people are saying ‘that’s a pretty stiff penalty,’ and I say ‘well, you don’t have to pay it, just don’t use your phone when you get in the car.’”

Hargrave said there’s two versions of distracted driving.

“There’s one about your cellphone, and there’s one driving without due care and attention, and I think some people may have gotten that confused a little bit,” Hargrave said. “Anything can be driving without due care and attention, if you’re eating, if you’re doing whatever, it a police officer’s discretion.

“If you’re driving down the road and you’re talking to the person riding with you, you’re fine, as long as you’re driving straight.”

More than 6,000 accidents in 2018 were caused by distractions or inattention behind the wheel. That resulted in 774 injuries and 22 deaths.

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