Updated cellphone law will ban Sask. drivers from viewing, holding phones
Amendment will clarify that 'using' includes viewing, manipulating mobile devices
The Saskatchewan government is closing a loophole in the rules pertaining to cars and cellphones.
Right now it's illegal to use a cellphone if you're driving a vehicle. If you get caught, there's a $280 fine.
However, in some cases the courts have ruled that using a mobile device means actively using it — making or receiving a call.
In one case, a driver in Moose Jaw got ticketed when his phone rang and he looked at the screen to see if his daughter was calling.
The judge in the case ruled he didn't use the phone, only looked at it, so he was acquitted.
Crown prosecutors have argued the existing law covered all situations — whether it's holding a cell phone, putting it in a shirt pocket, or just looking at the screen.
Hoping to clear up any ambiguity, the government is sharpening up the language in the Traffic Safety Act.
The amendments will clarify the ban on using cellphones includes "holding, viewing or manipulating" them as well as "using" them.
The government wants to pass the legislative amendments so the new rules go into effect on Jan. 1, 2017.
According to Saskatchewan Government Insurance, one U.S. study shows that people who use their cellphones to send text messages while they drive are 23 times more likely to get into crashes than people who don't text.