Distracted drivers are being given a small window of warning by police riding the bus not to use their phones while behind the wheel before tickets start getting handed out.
Officers will be on Regina transit buses issuing warnings for Wednesday afternoon only.
“We’re going to be doing some positive ticketing. We’ll have officers out on buses and we’ll be pulling people over but we’ll be providing them with some literature about the dangers of distracted driving, suggesting that perhaps now is a good time to change their behaviours,” explained Inspector Lorilee Davies.
It’s a heads-up for the upcoming “Operation Bus Cop.” It runs from March 1-31 and will see uniformed officers riding buses in high-traffic areas during peak times. A seat on the bus gives police an excellent vantage point to see whether drivers are focusing the road or turning their attention elsewhere, like their cell phones.
Once an officer spots someone breaking the law, they’ll radio another officer lying in wait.
After Wednesday afternoon, the grace period will be over. Tickets of $280 will be written for those distracted drivers caught.
Davies doesn’t believe the initiative is sneaky, considering officers will be in full uniform when they board the bus. She said police won’t be as visible as some people would imagine, but if it leads to drivers changing their habits then it’ll be worth it.
“If people think twice about using their phone when they get behind the wheel then we’re improving the safety on our roadways. That’s a win.”
Regina police said similar initiatives have been successfully run in other cities. Ottawa police tried the program in December 2016.
Distracted driving is the leading cause of death on roads in Saskatchewan, worse than drunk driving. In 2015, nearly 5,700 crashes had distracted driving as a contributing factor. A total of 36 people lost their lives and another 802 were injured.