Be safe behind the wheel this wintertime

Weyburn This Week editorial

As fresh snow falls on the Weyburn region once again, the importance of safe winter driving is brought home as each driver navigates his or her way through the icy, slippery streets.

The challenges of winter driving are tough enough without drivers adding to that task, but some drivers insist on making the situation worse by texting on their phone, or doing their makeup while driving, or any of a number of other non-driving activities.

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In spite of all the publicity and fines levied for distracted driving, there are hundreds of drivers charged every year for doing these things and more while also trying to also drive down a highway, grid road or city street, and the result has not been a very good one.

Driver distraction is one of the top causes of collisions, injuries and deaths on Saskatchewan roads. In 2018, it was a factor in more than 6,000 collisions, 774 injuries and 22 deaths, according to the most recent statistics.

This is truly appalling, and shows there is much that needs to be done to improve the safety of the roads, because even with 22 people needlessly dying, and causing much pain and suffering to their families and friends, there are still people who can’t put the phone down or concentrate solely on driving when they’re behind the wheel.

The result is, the provincial government will be making the fines even harsher for distracted driving, starting on Feb. 1, 2020.

Currently a distracted driving ticket costs the driver $280 plus four demerit points. After Feb. 1, that ticket will more than double to $580 plus four demerit points, and that will escalate to $1,400 for a second offence, with four more demerit points, and an immediate seven-day vehicle seizure.

If there’s yet another offence after that, the ticket will rise to $2,100, with four more demerit points, and another seven-day vehicle seizure. All of those demerit points will also add up, and will cause the driver’s insurance costs to go up substantially.

The sheer carnage on our roads and highways should be enough to get people’s attention, but since that hasn’t worked, the fines and vehicle seizures should get the attention of a few people.

A young woman from the Weyburn area lost her life because she was paying attention to her phone, and her car was hit by a train.

Kailynn Bursic-Panchuk never saw her graduation day at the Weyburn Comp as she had hoped and planned, and her family, and her wide circle of friends, were devastated by her death.

This is a tragedy that does not have to be repeated, and should never be. When you get behind the wheel and head out onto our roads, make sure all of your attention is on driving safely.