87 people lost their vehicle for a week because of cellphone tickets last year

“Confessions of a Reformed Distracted Driver” is part of the March Traffic Safety Spotlight

Regina, SK (Jan. 31, 2019) — Losing your vehicle for a week for something as trivial as being unable to leave your phone alone sounds pretty terrible, right?

Under The Traffic Safety Act, receiving a second $280 cellphone ticket within a year triggers an immediate roadside vehicle impoundment. That means the vehicle is towed from roadside and impounded for seven days, while the owner is stuck with the bill for towing and storage (usually at least $400). It also results in four demerits under SGI’s Safe Driver Recognition program.

“It’s a law that’s been in place since 2010 and was strengthened in 2017, but it’s something that warrants a reminder,” said Penny McCune, Chief Operating Officer of the Auto Fund. “In 2018, 87 people found out the hard way as they saw their vehicle towed away for a week’s stay at a local impound lot. That is, by far, the highest number of seven-day cellphone ticket impoundments imposed since it became the law.”

If you think seizing a vehicle for seven days for a cellphone ticket is severe, consider this: Driver distraction or inattention is consistently a leading factor in collisions, injuries and fatalities on Saskatchewan roads, and it’s clear from the number of tickets – and seven-day impoundments – that police are taking it seriously. It’s why police are focussing on distracted driving as March’s Traffic Safety Spotlight.

“Our advice so you don’t hurt someone by driving while distracted or face those tough consequences and financial penalties? It’s simple: put the phone away,” McCune said.

Laura Anaka was one of those people who lost her vehicle because of two tickets. She’s not proud of it, but has graciously allowed SGI to share her story.

Laura works full-time, is a full-time university student and the mom of a three-year-old daughter.

With the first ticket, she was simply holding her phone in her hand (the law states drivers aren’t allowed to “hold, use, manipulate or view a handheld electronic device” while operating a motor vehicle). When she got the second ticket two months later, she was holding it again – this time on top of the steering wheel. That was enough for police to issue a ticket AND call a tow truck.

“I felt really guilty and ashamed when my car was towed,” Laura says. “I couldn’t believe I was caught a second time. I should have learned my lesson the first time. I had to bum rides from my friends just to go to the grocery story and I was constantly switching out a car seat into different friends’ vehicles just so I could get my daughter to daycare. That week was really hard.”

After losing the use of her vehicle for a week, and all the costs and inconvenience that came along with two distracted driving tickets, Laura says it’s a mistake she won’t make again: “When I’m driving, I don’t have my phone anywhere near me. It’s in my purse. Out of sight, out of mind.”

Avoiding a ticket isn’t hard. The secret is in the hashtags: #HeadsUpPhonesDown and #JustDrive. And if you’re in a vehicle with someone who’s driving while using their cellphone, call them out. Let them know what they’re doing isn’t cool, and could cost them, big-time.

Here are some more tips:

  • Put your phone in the glove box, a purse, even the trunk. Or hand it off to a passenger before you begin driving.
  • Put it on “Do not disturb”, or Airplane mode before you set out.
  • If you need to use it, safely pull over to the side of the road.
  • Set your playlist and your GPS before you go.
  • Use voice-activated functions to change songs or get directions.

“Confessions of a Reformed Distracted Driver”

Hear more of Laura’s story, in her own words, on SGI’s YouTube channel.

About SGI

Saskatchewan Government Insurance (SGI) is the province’s self-sustaining auto insurance fund. SGI operates 21 claims centres and five salvage centres across Saskatchewan with a head office in Regina. SGI also works with a network of nearly 400 motor licence issuers across the province. Customers can now do some transactions online. For more information, visit www.sgicanada.ca.

Source: Saskatchewan Government Insurance

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