Po­lice watch­ing for dis­tracted drivers

Prince Albert Daily Herald - - COMING UP - DAILY HER­ALD STAFF

SGI is re­mind­ing Saskatchewan drivers to put their phone away while they’re driv­ing.

Po­lice are crack­ing down on dis­tracted driv­ing in Oc­to­ber as a part of the traf­fic safety spot­light. Through­out the prov­ince, po­lice will be us­ing a va­ri­ety of tac­tics to catch dis­tracted driv­ing, in­clud­ing sur­veil­lance from un­marked ve­hi­cles and plain­clothes of­fi­cers on the side­walks. Regina po­lice will have of­fi­cers watch­ing for dis­tracted drivers from city buses.

Po­lice will be on the look­out for peo­ple us­ing hand­held cell­phones to talk, text, email or browse the web while driv­ing.

But SGI is warn­ing drivers that dis­tracted driv­ing isn’t lim­ited to cell­phone use.

“Drivers are still not get­ting the mes­sage,” said su­per­in­ten­dent Brian Shalovelo of the Saska­toon Po­lice in a news re­lease. “If you are in con­trol of a ve­hi­cle any­thing that takes your at­ten­tion away from the road is dan­ger­ous. If some­one says they were pick­ing up a CD on the floor when they lost con­trol, that is dis­tracted driv­ing. Chang­ing the ra­dio sta­tion, smok­ing a cig­a­rette, read­ing a map or your mail, th­ese are all ex­am­ples of how a driver can be dis­tracted. We’ve even seen peo­ple watch­ing Net­flix while driv­ing.”

Dis­tracted driv­ing was a fac­tor in 8,300 col­li­sions last year. In Saskatchewan, it is il­le­gal for drivers to use, view, hold or ma­nip­u­late a cell­phone while driv­ing. If you’re hold­ing a cell­phone and not us­ing it, you can still be charged.

Ex­pe­ri­enced drivers can use a cell­phone if it is mounted to their vi­sor or dash, and they use voice-ac­ti­vated or one-touch func­tions. Learner and novice drivers are not al­lowed to us a cell­phone of any kind, not even hands­free.

The penalty for dis­tracted driv­ing is a $280 fine and four de­merit points. Drivers caught us­ing their cell­phone while driv­ing for a sec­ond time within one year will have their ve­hi­cle seized for seven days.

“The av­er­age car or light­weight truck weighs over four thou­sand pounds,” said Chief Evan Bray, Regina Po­lice Ser­vice in a news re­lease.

“That is two tons of com­fort and con­ve­nience to get you to your des­ti­na­tion… or it’s two tons of steel and glass that can take your life, or some­one else’s, if you lose con­trol. Is there any text mes­sage, photo or mu­sic se­lec­tion in the world that could be more im­por­tant than a hu­man life?”

SGI also pro­vided a list of tips to drive free of dis­trac­tions:

Don’t use your cell­phone, even at a red light – the law ap­plies when­ever you’re in con­trol of a ve­hi­cle.

· Put the phone away – si­lence your phone and put it out of reach be­fore get­ting be­hind the wheel.

· Fo­cus on driv­ing – limit dis­trac­tions like eat­ing, groom­ing, or hav­ing emo­tional con­ver­sa­tions with pas­sen­gers.

· Have a des­ig­nated tex­ter – let your pas­sen­ger re­ply to mes­sages and op­er­ate the ra­dio and GPS.

· Pull over first – if you need to make a call or take care of chil­dren or pets, don’t do it while driv­ing.

· Call out friends and fam­ily – if you see them us­ing a cell­phone be­hind the wheel, speak up! It may save their life.

The traf­fic safety fo­cus for Au­gust was im­paired driv­ing. Po­lice re­ported 390 im­paired driv­ing of­fences, in­clud­ing 334 Crim­i­nal Code charges. Po­lice also re­ported 4,243 tick­ets for speed­ing or ag­gres­sive driv­ing, 360 tick­ets for in­ap­pro­pri­ate or no seat­belt/child re­straint and 459 tick­ets for dis­tracted driv­ing, in­clud­ing 342 for cell­phone use.

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