THE BATTLEFORDS — Put down the phone; pay attention to the road; get to your destination safely.
Those are the messages the city’s Community Safety Officers will be conveying during an October enforcement and education blitz about the dangers of distracted driving. CSO Unit Commander Jerry Koliniak worked with SGI and Lash-Berg Towing on a display to give drivers a visual perspective of the extent of damage distracted driving can do to a vehicle – and its occupants – after a crash occurs.
“SGI donated a totaled car to us that Lash-Berg strapped to a trailer, which we will be hauling to different schools and areas in the region,” commented Koliniak. “The reality is that so many accidents, including fatalities, happen while vehicle operators, not just young people, are on their phones and not paying attention to their driving.”
Koliniak said that while enhanced enforcement efforts for distracted driving laws will be a priority for October, the real goal of the initiative is education and prevention.
“We would rather educate people about the very real dangers of distracted driving and prevent people from driving while distracted before a serious incident occurs. Effective prevention can potentially save lives.”
“Distracted driving” does not just include cellphone use while operating a motor vehicle – it also includes eating, using GPS, reading and personal grooming – actions which can yield a ticket for the driver, along with hefty fines.
The penalties for using a cellphone (holding, using, viewing or manipulating) while driving are:
• first offence - $580 ticket and four demerit points under the Safe Driver Recognition/Driver Improvement Programs;
• second offence within a year of being convicted of the first - $1,400 ticket and an additional four demerit points, plus an immediate, seven-day vehicle seizure;
• third offence within a year of being convicted of the first - $2,100 ticket, four more demerit points and another seven-day vehicle seizure.
Penalties for “driving without due care and attention” tickets are the same as above.
The schedule for the Distracted Driving Campaign stops is: Oct. 3 - Jean-Paul II Collegiate; Oct. 4 - North Battleford Comprehensive High School; Oct. 5 - Sakawew High School; Oct. 6 - Frontier Centre (front parking lot); Oct. 7 - Access Communications Centre (7:30 p.m., dirt parking lot, North Stars hockey game); Oct. 11 - Discovery Co-op Mall; Oct. 12 - Sobeys off Territorial Drive; Oct. 13 - McDonalds (east location); Oct. 14 - Tim Hortons (east location); Oct. 17 - SLGA liquor store on 101st Street; Oct. 18 - Little Caesars; Oct. 19 - NationsWEST Field House parking lot; Oct. 20 -Walmart; Oct. 21 - downtown, across from City Hall on 101st Street.
For the week of Oct. 24 to 28, the display will move to the town of Battleford as city CSOs work on this community safety initiative and awareness campaign with regional partners. Battlefords Citizens on Patrol are also supporting the campaign as they assist in crime prevention and reporting.