Saskatchewan deaths down after impounds

Saskatchewan has seen distracted driving crashes and fatalities fall in the wake of a year-old law that allows for seizure of serial offenders’ vehicles.

Saskatchewan flagPreliminary numbers for 2014 show “quite a significant decrease” from 2012 and 2013. In 2014, there were 26 fatalities and about 600 injuries linked to distractions, according to Saskatchewan Government Insurance. They resulted from about 3,300 collisions.

In 2012, distracted/non-attentive drivers were linked to about 7,500 crashes with 69 deaths and more than 2,500 injuries.

In 2010, Saskatchewan set a $280 fine for handheld cell phone use. In late June 2014, the province added an unusual provision that allows for seven-day seizure of serial offenders’ vehicles.

At least 35 drivers have had their vehicle seized for using an electronic communication device while driving or for driving without due care and attention, SGI says. In one case, a commercial truck was impounded because the driver had a prior distracted driving offense.

Authorities did not make a direct connection between the seizures and the lower number, but vowed priority enforcement for distracted driving in October.

Distracted driving is the top contributing factor in all collisions in Saskatchewan, and the third-most-cited contributing factor in fatal wrecks, following impaired driving and speeding.

Canada’s provinces continue to combat distracted driving with some of the toughest sanctions in North America. Ontario recently saw fines for those who plead guilty to distracted driving begin at $490, with three demerit points. And Manitoba unveiled a new 5-demerit penalty vs. the driver’s license — the highest level of demerit points in Canada.

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