Cell Phone Use

Res #: 16-07M
Number: 16
Year: 2007
Midterm: Yes
Expired: Yes
Responses Received: No

Resolution No. 16 – 07M
Cell Phone Use

WHEREAS cell phones have become more common in everyday communication;

WHEREAS the use of cell phones are a distraction to a motorist while operating any vehicle; and

WHEREAS many accidents are caused by undue care and attention because of the use of cell phones while operating a moving vehicle;

BE IT RESOLVED that SARM pressure the Provincial Government to establish fines for motorists caught using a cell phone while operating a moving vehicle. 

Response from Jon Schubert, President and CEO, SGI

SGI considers cell phone use while driving to be just one of many distractions that are causing collision on Saskatchewan's roads.  Driver distraction is an important part of SGI's new traffic safety strategy and has been an area of continuous emphasis in our public education efforts.  Over the past number of years, SGI has run multi-media awareness campaigns to educate road users about the hazzards associated with all types of driver distraction.  In addition, provincial legistlation now allows the police to lay a charge of "driving without due care/reasonable considerations" when a driver is using a cell phone in a way that poses a danger to other road users.  This offence attracts a fine of $270 and four Safe Driver Recognition demerit points.

At this time, Saskatchewan is not considering introducing legistlation to ban cell phone use in vehicles.  While a number of studies have concluded that the use of cell phones, both hand-held and hands-free, is associated with an elevated risk of involvement in traffic collisions, Canadian jurisdictions have generally agreed that a better approach to this issue would be appropriate education and awareness campaigns targeted at the whole issue of driver distraction.

Allow me to share the experiences of some jurisdications which banned cell phone use by vehicle drivers.  In 2001, New York banned cell phones and fewer drivers were observed using hand-held phones in vehicles.  However, a year later, use rates had returned to the same levels as before.  In Western Australia it has been illegal since 2001 to use hand-held phones in your vehicle.  A report by the Insurance Institute on Highways Safety, however, observed a substantial portion of drivers in both New York and West Australia continue to use such phones illegally.  Newfoundland, which banned the use of hand-held phones in 2003, has experienced similar results.

It is also important to note that the increased use of cell phones over the past decade has not resulted in an increase of the number of collisions caused by driver distraction.  According to the Canadian Wireless and Telecommunications Association, the number of cell phone subscribers in Canada grew from about 1.3 million in 1993 to 16.8 million in 2005 (an increase of 1,192%).  Over the same period the number of injury collisions decreased from 168,106 to 154, 225.

SGI has, and will continue to monitor the situation and will keep educating drivers on the broader issue of driver distraction and associated hazards, through multi-media awareness compaigns, and working with other agencies.  Rather than banning the use of cell phones while driving, SGI's focus is to educate drivers on using cell phones responsibly.