Saskatchewan moves to fix loophole in law that bans cellphone use while driving

REGINA (CP) — The Saskatchewan government is moving to close a loophole in its law that bans drivers from using hand-held cellphones.
The province is changing the law to prohibit holding, viewing, using or manipulating a cellphone.
The original legislation on cellphones in vehicles became law in Saskatchewan in 2010, but it referred to drivers "using" a cellphone. Joe Hargrave, minister responsible for Saskatchewan Government Insurance, says it didn't go far enough.

"Too many people were contesting their fines or their tickets based on the fact they were just holding it. They weren't actually on the phone," Hargrave said Monday at the legislature.

A provincial court judge ruled in March 2015 that the legislation didn't prohibit looking at electronic communication devices.

Driver Cory Haliwyz had been ticketed by police in May 2014. He testified that he picked up the phone in his right hand for a brief moment to find out who had sent him a text. Haliwyz said he did not read or respond to the text, that he glanced once at the phone and then put it down.

Court heard the officer looked at the phone and saw there was an incoming text message. The officer did not see any outgoing response. In finding Haliwyz not guilty, the judged noted that Haliwyz did not touch any of the controls, press any of the buttons or do anything active.
Hargrave said that's why clarification was needed.

The minister said he was nearly run off the road two weeks ago by a distracted driver in Prince Albert.

"You could see that she was texting and I'm up on the curb, my wife and I, with our own vehicle," he said. "It's got to stop."

Distracted driving was the number 1 factor in all crashes in Saskatchewan in 2012 and 2013 — ahead of impaired driving.