A series of new traffic safety laws, from impaired driving and speeding to motorcycles and booster seats, have all taken effect in the province of Saskatchewan since June 27.
Some of the new laws include tougher consequences for impaired driving. Drug-impaired drivers are subject to the same laws as alcohol-impaired drivers and fines can range up to $2250 plus immediate vehicle seizure and mandatory ignition lock for one year if convicted. There is zero tolerance for drivers under the age of 19 or for those on the Graduated Driver Licensing Program.
Vehicle seizures for impaired driving now range from immediate to 60 days for first-time offences to 18-month immediate roadside suspension for new drivers and for distracted driving offences. For distracted driving, including cellphone use while driving and all other forms of distracted driving (such as personal grooming, eating), vehicle seizures are automatically seven days on a second or subsequent offence.
Vehicle owners need to note that the vehicle being driven at the time of the offence is the one that will be seized, regardless of whether the offender is the registered owner or not.
New penalties for Criminal Code offences under the Traffic Act, such as dangerous driving, driving while suspended or leaving the scene of an accident, include seven-day vehicle seizures and demerit points under the Safe Driver Recognition program.
For motorcyclists, new equipment requirements for drivers operating under the Motorcycle Graduated Driver Licensing program must have arms and legs covered as well and hands and ankles, and must be wearing an approved helmet. Motorcycle licence plates will also bear stickers identifying learner- or novice-level cyclists.
In other changes, booster seats are now mandatory for all children under seven years of age and those who are 4’9” (145 cm) or less in height and/or weigh less than 80 lbs. (36 kg). The fine for failing to secure a child in an appropriate booster seat or child car seat is $175, the same amount charged for an adult failing to wear a seatbelt.
In 2013, three children died and 88 children under age seven were injured in collisions in Saskatchewan; 17 of the injured children were improperly or not restrained at all. In addition, 29 of the injured children were restrained by a seatbelt that may have been inappropriate for the child.
Last year, 134 people were killed and 6,762 were injured in vehicle collisions on Saskatchewan roads and highways.
In May alone, nearly 120 impaired drivers were stopped.
Police also issued 2,148 tickets for aggressive driving including speeding, 310 tickets for improper or non-seatbelt use and 158 tickets for distracted driving, which includes 104 for cellphone use.
By Alison Squires