Drivers in Saskatchewan who make the unsafe decision to drive while distracted will soon be paying more for a ticket, with escalating fines for repeat offences within a 12-month period. Changes take effect February 1, 2020.
Driver distraction or inattention is one of the top causes of collisions, injuries and fatalities on Saskatchewan roads. In 2018, it was a factor in more than 6,000 collisions, 774 injuries and 22 deaths.
“Enough is enough,” Minister Responsible for SGI Joe Hargrave said. “Despite increased enforcement by police and significant awareness efforts by SGI, 22 people lost their lives on Saskatchewan roads in 2018 due to distracted driving or inattention. That is 22 deaths too many.”
Currently, a distracted driving ticket* costs the recipient $280 plus four demerits, with vehicle seizures for repeat offenders. Starting February 1, 2020, the cost of a ticket will more than double, and the cost of subsequent tickets will escalate.
Here are the consequences distracted drivers can expect:
• First offence – $580 ticket plus four demerits.
• Second offence within a year of being convicted of the first – $1,400 ticket, plus an additional four demerits, plus an immediate, seven-day vehicle seizure. Vehicle owners are responsible for the towing and impound fees (cost varies according to mileage, but expect to pay approximately $400 at least).
• Third offence within a year of conviction of the first – $2,100 ticket, plus four more demerits and another seven-day vehicle seizure.
*(Cost of tickets includes Victims of Crime surcharges).
The demerits could also cost the driver insurance discounts they had earned or – if they are on the negative side of the SGI Safe Driver Recognition (SDR) scale – additional financial penalties, at $50 for every point below zero. If a driver started at zero, and received three distracted driving tickets in a year, they would have to pay a total of $1,200 in SDR financial penalties, on top of the other financial impacts.
Police across the province have been catching more distracted drivers than ever before, and statistics reported to SGI show there have been more than 1,000 distracted driving tickets* issued during May and July of 2019. The vast majority of tickets issued are to drivers caught using their phones behind the wheel.
“Distracted driving kills and injures people; it is a serious safety concern, and our government is sending a direct message to drivers,” Hargrave said. “Yes, the tickets are costly. Don’t want to get one? It’s easy. Put the phone down, keep your head up, and focus on the road.”
* “Distracted driving tickets” refers to tickets under The Traffic Safety Act for violating either:
• Section 241.1(2) – “No driver shall hold, view, use or manipulate electronic communications equipment (cell phone) while driving a motor vehicle on a highway,” or
• Section 213 (1) – “No person shall drive a vehicle on a highway without due care and attention.”