Saskatchewan drivers caught using their cellphones are set to pay a lot more when the province's new penalties are introduced on Feb. 1, 2020.
Saskatchewan Government Insurance (SGI), a crown corporation that sets the province’s car insurance prices, is increasing the cost of a ticket for distracted driving to $580 from $280 for first offenders. The four demerit penalty will remain the same.
If caught again within a year of conviction, distracted drivers get a seven-day vehicle seizure and $1,400 fine.
Canadian Underwriter reports more than 1,000 distracted driving tickets were handed out between May and July, and a majority of them were to drivers using cellphones.
SGI says distracted driving or driving without undue care and attention was a factor in 22 deaths and more than 750 injuries last year in Saskatchewan.
As distracted driving is on its way to being more deadly than impaired driving tougher penalties have been implemented across the country to curb the issue.
But harsher penalties don’t guarantee compliance says Traffic Injury Research Foundation (TIRF) CEO, Robyn Robertson.
“I think we need to keep in mind with penalties some people’s behaviour is changed by more significant penalties, but not everybody is affected by penalties,” Robertson told Global News.
“I think we need to find alternative solutions in addition to penalties to really create that social change.”
SGI urges people to put the human cost of distracted driving at the forefront.
“At the end of the day, everyone just needs to focus on driving. Driving is an immensely complex task with a good deal of risk. We just want people to give it the attention it deserves so it can be done safely,” SGI tweeted.