In 2016 there were close to 8,300 collisions in Saskatchewan in which distracted driving was a factor.
In fact, according to Saskatchewan Government Insurance (SGI), it is the number one factor in all collisions in the province.
SGI's numbers show that fatalities, injuries, and collisions have all increased over the last three years due to distracted drivers.
"Anything that takes your attention away from the road is dangerous and can constitute distracted driving," stated Tyler McMurchy, Manager of Media Relations for SGI. "That includes things like changing the radio station, eating, applying make-up, reading, fiddling with your GPS or dealing with obnoxious or rowdy passengers."
Saskatchewan changed its distracted driving laws at the beginning of the year, making it illegal to even hold a phone while driving or stopped at a red light.
The law was also changed to make it illegal for learner and novice drivers to use a cellphone hands-free in a vehicle.
Fines for distracted driving are $280 along with four demerit points. A second violation within a year can result in a vehicle being impounded for seven days.
Police in Saskatchewan plan to focus on distracted drivers in October. Authorities will be using a variety of ways to catch drivers who are not paying attention to the road.
Tactics will include surveillance from unmarked vehicles and plainclothes officers watching from sidewalks.
It is illegal for drivers in Saskatchewan to use, view, hold or manipulate a cellphone while driving, even holding a cell phone and not using it can still result in charges.
"You need to remove your phone from the equation," added McMurchy. "Whether that means handing it off to a passenger, putting it in the glove box or the back seat, lock it in the trunk if it's something that's so distracting that you can't deal with the fact that the cell phone is in the car. But whatever you do, you need to focus on driving."
Hands-free use of cellphones while driving is allowed for experienced drivers who are not in the Graduated Driver Licensing program, this includes:
- Devices that clip to the visor.
- Headsets, either wired or wireless.
- Voice-activated devices.
- Devices built into the vehicle, such as OnStar or those with Bluetooth technology.
- Bluetooth earpieces.
- One-touch activation of a speakerphone feature on a cellphone placed within easy reach.
- Making 9-1-1 calls on cellphones while driving for both new and experienced drivers.
- Making a call on a cellphone when parked on the side of the road, for both new and experienced drivers.
It is important to note that it is also illegal to distract other drivers.
For instance, deliberately creating loud and unnecessary noise with a motor vehicle is not permitted.