Put the Phone Down: Distracted Driving Problem in Saskatchewan

Distracted Driving is a problem in Saskatchewan. Let's do better.

Epidemic

Distracted driving in Saskatchewan is an issue. If you don’t agree, you’re wrong. There are dozens of articles and statistics that prove it, so check the research and understand the problem (that’s the first step to recovery, right?)

Here are the facts:

  • According to SGI Stats for 2016, distractions were a contributing factor in 925 collisions resulting in 1,205 injuries and 42 fatalities. That’s about 21% of casualty collisions in 2016.
  • January 1, 2017, the law was improved to include holding and viewing an electronic device while driving as an offence, not just talking on the phone.
  • From January 2016 to November 2016, 574 distracted driving charges were laid. During the same 11 month span in 2017, the number almost doubled to 1,087, according to a CBC article.
  • November 2017 was historic, in the worst way, with 554 offences involving cell phones, according to CBC.

Distracted Driving

Distracted driving isn’t just about having your phone out. It’s eating your bagel, carpool karaoke, drinking coffee, watching Netflix, painting nails, applying makeup… COME ON. If all that is more important, get someone else to drive or plan your time a little better.

If you have kids in the car, they’re distracting too. Either they’re talking to you, to themselves, to each other (if they’re not yelling at each other), throwing yogurt (true story), or throwing punches. Talk to your kids about safe driving and model being a good passenger. If there’s no talking to them, find a way to keep them content: colouring book or activities, quiet games, individual music players and headphones… It’s worth it.

Pay Attention, Not Fines

There is no excuse for using your phone while driving. Think of one good reason why you need to use your phone behind the wheel. Go ahead. I’ll wait.

I didn’t think so.

The fine for distracted driving starts at $280. I don’t know about you, but I’d rather buy something nice for myself with that money rather than handing it for a fine.

I know what you’re thinking: “don’t get caught”. No, how about this? Don’t do it. The text/tweet/message/snap/whatever can wait. You’re already stretching yourself pretty thin with steering, braking, accelerating, shoulder-checking, mirror-checking, listening to tunes, signalling to get over, watching for pedestrians… The list can go on. What I’m trying to say is that driving is distracting all on its own. There’s so much going on that having your phone out is a terrible idea. So just don’t.

Let’s Do Better!

  1. Put your phone out of sight while you’re behind the wheel. You’ll be less tempted to reach for it when it goes off.
  2. If “music” is your excuse, take the time before you leave to set a playlist so your T. Swift jams can play shamelessly throughout the drive.
  3. If you have an iPhone, there’s a handy little setting to turn off notifications while you’re in motion.
  4. If you’re constantly “getting ready” in the car, wake up 10 minutes earlier.
  5. Directions can be loaded onto your device before you leave for your destination. In fact, many in-vehicle navigation systems will not let you fiddle with it while in motion, so it’s a good idea to just figure it out before you go.
  6. Use voice commands instead. Many new vehicles include voice commands, almost all of them have Bluetooth technology. Use that if it’s really necessary to answer the phone or reply to a message.
  7. Pull over to the RIGHT to answer the phone (without Bluetooth or a headset). Pulling over when it’s safe will reduce distractions while driving and allow other drivers to go around you.

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