Making Our Communities Safer
News of a new Constable being sworn-in to our Moose Jaw Police force is an uplifting, encouraging story of someone who is committed to justice and ready to put his life on the line for the protection of others. Congratulations to Constable Brandon Braun who officially joined the team earlier this month.
One area of focus and concern for police is distracted driving. Distracted driving is one of the leading factors in collisions and injuries from automobile crashes in Saskatchewan. Our most recent statistics show that twenty-two people died and 774 were injured in 2018 due to distracted driving. In an effort to reduce the number of people driving while distracted, harsher penalties will come into effect next month. Starting February 1, 2020, the cost of a distracted driving ticket for a first offence will more than double, from $280 to $580, plus four demerits.
A second offence, within a year of being convicted of the first, is a $1,400 ticket, plus an additional four demerits, plus an immediate, seven-day vehicle seizure. This penalty does not include the costs associated with towing and impound fees.
A third offence within a year of conviction of the first is a $2,100 ticket, plus four more demerits and another seven-day vehicle seizure.
It is against the law in Saskatchewan to hold, view, use or manipulate electronic communication equipment while driving a motor vehicle, and if you are caught, you will get a ticket under distracted driving legislation.
It’s important to know that an experienced driver can use a hands-free device if it can be activated with voice commands or one-touch, and is mounted on the dashboard or visor in a cradle. But if you’re a new driver in the Graduated Driver Licensing program, even hands-free devices are not acceptable and are illegal to use.
Other forms of distracted driving like eating, using GPS, reading, personal grooming or interacting with pets or passengers are covered under driving without due care and attention legislation. These activities are not considered against the law and won’t automatically result in a ticket. But, if your behaviour poses a risk to road safety, you may be ticketed by police for driving without due care and attention.
Saskatchewan impaired driving statistics also show that we still have more work to do. Impaired driving is the leading cause of death on Saskatchewan’s roads and police across the province regularly charge between 200 and 400 people with impaired driving every month.
Our government is addressing impaired driving in a number of ways. In recent years, we have introduced some of the strongest impaired driving legislation in the country, including stronger penalties for drug-impaired drivers and for impaired drivers who transport children. Ride Share regulations were also brought in to provide another option for a safe ride home.
A partnership between municipalities, the Ministry of Corrections and Policing, and SGI supports the Combined Traffic Services Saskatchewan initiative to improve safety on the highways through increased awareness and enforcement of traffic regulations. Funding provided to the City of Moose Jaw through the agreement for 2019-20 is $690,000. This means we can have more officers like Constable Brandon Braun on the City of Moose Jaw police force.
Consider the consequences and drive safe. I am grateful for all the dedicated women and men in our law enforcement services. Their efforts, along with support and financial investment from all levels of government, and the effort of everyone in our community to make good choices, we will have safer communities.