Drivers with a blood alcohol content (BAC) of .04 or higher who transport children will face even longer roadside licence suspensions and vehicle seizures under legislation introduced today.
The Traffic Safety Amendment Act, 2017 implements an immediate seven-day administrative driving suspension on a first offence for a person who transports a child under the age of 16 and has a blood alcohol content (BAC) of .04 or higher, refuses to undergo a field sobriety test or fails a field sobriety test. This is an increase from the current three-day roadside suspension. This is in addition to any jail sentence, fine, demerit points and additional sanctions that result from the impaired driving conviction. Continue reading “Tougher penalties introduced for impaired drivers with kids in vehicle”→
Only eight per cent of Saskatchewan drivers are teenagers, but they run the highest risk of being involved in a serious or fatal collision, according to Saskatchewan Government Insurance (SGI).
SGI Traffic Safety Community Relations Coordinator Jackie Bosch said the government insurance company’s statistics show teen drivers account for 10 per cent of collisions, 10 per cent of major collisions, and 13 per cent of fatal collisions in the province.
That’s a statistic that needs to change, said Bosch.
“We all want kids to make smart choices when it comes to driving,” she said. “In order to do that, they need to know what the consequences are of distracted driving and impaired driving.”
Several hundred high school students from Dalmeny, Martensville and Warman got a first-hand look at the causes, and aftermath, of collisions during a “Safe Driving for the Next Generation” workshop held Friday, March 17 at Speedy Collision in Martensville. Organized by Speedy Collision co-owners Rob Keet and Heather Laing Keet, the event was aimed at promoting safe driving habits.
“Our goal is to make everyone more aware of the dangers of distracted driving and impaired driving, as well as give the students a close-up look at what happens in a real-life situation when there’s a collision,” said Heather Laing Keet. “We’re very happy with how the day went, with all the cooperation from the police and fire department and SGI, as well as our sponsors.
“If this helps save a single life, then it was definitely worth it.”
Tracy Church of SGI said all drivers need to be aware of the changes to the law that came into effect earlier this year. There is now “zero tolerance” for alcohol and drugs for drivers 21 and under, and for all new drivers.
The new law also has provisions for a three-day vehicle seizure for experienced drivers that are caught with a blood alcohol content (BAC) of between .04 and .08 on a first offence.
The SGI officials noted that vehicle insurance is voided if the driver involved in a collision is impaired.
Student volunteers from the audience learned how easy it is to lose control of a vehicle while texting using a video game driving simulator provided by SGI.
RCMP Constable Jay Slack, one of the speakers at the event, said driving is a big responsibility that demands a person’s full attention. The key to safe driving, he said, is to remain calm and focused behind the wheel.
“A vehicle is a 5000-pound weapon,” said Slack. “You have to be careful about what you’re doing all the time. A moment’s distraction can be fatal.”
Slack warned students to be especially wary of “blind spots” such as the windshield pillars, and to always double-check for pedestrians.
Slack utilized three student volunteers from the audience to illustrate the effects of impaired driving by having them wear goggles designed to distort their perception. He said drugs, including marijuana, have a similar effect.
Martensville Fire Department (MFD) Captain Ryan Cross described the process of extricating a crash victim from a vehicle while other MFD members pulled the doors off a donated vehicle using specialized power tools.
Cross said new vehicles have many airbags and sensors that are designed to protect occupants in the event of a collision. But they can also be dangerous, he added.
“Airbags deploy instantly, and they go off with a bang,” said Cross. “They pack a tremendous force and can injure or kill a person if not used properly.”
MFD First Responder Heidi Huziek explained the role of medical emergency personnel, and encouraged students to learn basic first aid procedures.
Rob Keet explained to students the steps involved in reporting a collision, depending on its severity, and making an insurance claim following the incident.
Impaired driving laws in Saskatchewan are changing in the new year. Tougher legislation was passed earlier this fall, with strengthened laws taking effect January 1, 2017.
“These changes reinforce that driving when you’ve been drinking is the wrong decision,” Minister responsible for Saskatchewan Government Insurance (SGI) Joe Hargrave said.
“Tougher consequences around vehicle seizures, licence suspensions and mandatory ignition interlock drive home the point that you risk not only your life but the lives of everyone else on the road when you choose to drive impaired. Don’t risk it. Make a New Year’s resolution to plan a sober ride – every time – so you and others get home safely.”
Changes build on laws implemented in 2014 to strengthen impaired driving legislation in Saskatchewan.
Starting January 1:
Experienced drivers who are charged for the first time with having a blood alcohol content (BAC) over .04 will have their vehicle seized for three days;
There will be zero tolerance for drugs and alcohol for all drivers 21 and under and all new drivers; and
Ignition interlock laws will be the strongest in Canada, with mandatory ignition interlock for drivers who register a BAC of .16 or greater or refuse to provide a breath sample (1st offence – two years; 2nd offence – five years; 3rd and subsequent offence – 10 years).
“New laws take effect at 12:01 a.m. on January 1, so make sure to plan a safe ride home from any New Year’s Eve celebrations if you plan on drinking,” Hargrave said. “If you’re 21 or under or a new driver, remember that zero tolerance means you can’t consume any alcohol or drugs before driving.”
Safe ride options include: taking the bus with Ding in the New Year in Regina, Saskatoon, Moose Jaw and Prince Albert; Operation Red Nose in Regina, Saskatoon, Prince Albert and The Battlefords; planning for a designated driver or using a designated driving service; calling a cab, friend or family member for a ride; or, planning to spend the night. Residents are reminded they can report suspected impaired drivers to police by calling 9-1-1.
In 2015 in Saskatchewan, there were nearly 1,200 impaired driving collisions, killing 54 people and injuring 580 others.
DISTRACTED DRIVING LAWS
A new cellphone law is also in effect January 1.
To help prevent distracted driving, the cellphone law is expanding from “using” a cellphone while driving to “holding, viewing, using or manipulating” a cellphone while driving.
The following applies under both the current and new cellphone law:
All drivers are prohibited from using hand-held cellphones.
Experienced drivers can use hands-free devices, but new drivers can’t.
If the cellphone is mounted on the dash, clipped to the visor or in a cradle, it’s considered hands-free and it’s OK for an experienced driver to use it, provided they can access the phone with one touch of a button or voice commands.