SGI is reminding Saskatchewan drivers of the dangers of distracted driving.
Distracted driving can contribute to collisions and can result in injuries or deaths. Financial penalties are also substantial if you’re caught driving while distracted, with drivers earning a $580 ticket and four demerit points for a first-time offence.
“The consequences actually escalate for repeat offences. The tickets get more expensive, and there are also vehicle impoundments that go along with it,” said Tyler McMurchy, manager of media relations with SGI.
2023 saw police report an average of 750 monthly tickets for distracted driving in the province.
While many will think of talking, texting, or swiping on a cellphone as a prime example of distracted driving, there are plenty of other examples of activities that can take your attention off the road. “Are they trying to also eat a messy burrito, or apply lipstick, or rummaging through a purse to find something?” asked McMurchy.
“Are the passengers in the backseat or in the passenger seat disrupting your focus as well? Do you have a dog or a cat climbing on your lap while you’re trying to drive?”
McMurchy said that drivers have plenty that requires their attention while driving, from traffic lights and signs to road hazards and other road users. “When you add to that with other activities, you take your focus away from the road, and it can lead to an unsafe situation.”
Cyclists and pedestrians should take steps to protect themselves from distracted drivers. “As much as we’d like all drivers to pay attention, unfortunately, some don’t. It’s important for vulnerable road users to do what they can to keep themselves safe as well.”
Pedestrians can protect themselves by crossing at crosswalks, obeying pedestrian walk signals, and looking both ways before stepping into the street. “Also make eye contact with the drivers that are approaching the intersection. Make sure that they see you, and that they are stopping as well.”
Cyclists can protect themselves by wearing helmets and reflective clothing, and by taking extra care at intersections. “Especially if you’re going to be making a left turn across oncoming traffic. Cyclists are smaller. It may be harder for those drivers that are in the oncoming lane to see you. Using arm signals is always a good idea to signal to the drivers and other road users your intentions.”
SGI's safety spotlight for February is on collisions. You can find more tips on avoiding collisions on SGI’s website here.