Saskatchewan police had a landmark month in March — much to the chagrin of drivers across the province.
A traffic campaign from Saskatchewan Government Insurance (SGI) caught a record number of distracted drivers behind the wheel for a one-month span.
In March, 711 tickets were handed out — 583 of them for using a cellphone.
“Police have gotten ridiculously good at catching distracted drivers,” said Tyler McMurchy, the manager of media relations for SGI.
“The term ‘fish in a barrel’ comes to mind.”
It didn’t come from a lack of effort either. McMurchy noted police reached the number by riding in unmarked SUV’s, dressing in plain clothes on sidewalks, watching from elevated vantage points or even riding the bus.
“If your phone is in your hand, you are going to get a ticket if a police officer spots it,” he said. “It doesn’t matter if you’re using your phone at a red light, it’s still distracting.”
Fines for distracted driving are $280, with four demerit points added to the driver’s safe-driver program. The program factors into determining insurance rates.
A second fine within a year will lead to a vehicle being impounded for a week.
In 2016, distracted driving was the leading cause of collisions in the province. It played a part in almost 8,300 collisions, which accounted for 42 deaths and 1,200 injuries.
SGI launched its monthly Traffic Safety Spotlight in 2014 to highlight driving patterns in the province.