The fifth coordinated traffic blitz in Saskatchewan, taking place April 18 and 19, will see law enforcement officers targeting motorists using their cellphones or not wearing seatbelts while driving.
“In addition to impaired driving, two major areas of concern in terms of traffic safety are non-use of seatbelts and using cellphones while driving,” said Andrew Cartmell, President and CEO of SGI. “This month, we are also starting the annual Seatbelt Challenge to raise awareness of the importance of seatbelt use across rural and northern Saskatchewan, as unfortunately, that’s where numbers of improper seatbelt use are the highest.”
On average, 13 per cent of all injuries and 43 per cent of all fatalities in collisions involve improper seatbelt use, resulting in 920 injuries and nearly 70 fatalities each year. Distracted driving, which includes cellphone use, results in more than 8,800 injuries and nearly 50 deaths each year.
“Seatbelt use is something we have been targeting through programs such as MAST (Multi Agency Seatbelt Team) and the Selective Traffic Safety Enforcement Program for years, and since cellphone enforcement tactics are similar, it made sense to include that as well,” said Chief Troy Hagen, President of the Saskatchewan Association of Chiefs of Police. “Since the traffic safety blitzes have been so successful, bringing these various programs together simplifies the message we send to the public, and helps to better educate them on traffic safety.”
As police agencies also have a MAST (Multi-Agency Seatbelt Team) event in the Yorkton area on the same days, a concentrated effort will take place in that community. However, the blitz will still take place province-wide. During the spring and summer months, police agencies will continue targeting a specific community during the blitzes to focus on cellphone and seatbelt use.
While police agencies collectively decide on a name for each blitz, “Operation Hang Up, Buckle Up” was based on suggestions from SGI’s social media followers.
Last month’s Operation March Madness saw a total of 943 tickets issued to Saskatchewan motorists, 754 of these for aggressive driving offences.