In an effort to reduce the high rate of injuries and fatalities on Saskatchewan's roads, the Special Committee on Traffic Safety will see several key recommendations turn into law effective June 27, 2014. One of the primary changes will effect new drivers caught driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol, who will face a 60-day license suspension and will have their vehicle seized for three days.
"Harsher penalties are aimed at deterring the unsafe choices some Saskatchewan drivers are making," said Donna Harpauer, Minister responsible for SGI. "We want drivers to think twice before making a bad decision, like getting behind the wheel after drinking or texting while driving."
Other traffic laws being introduced in the province June 27th include:
- Impaired drivers face user-pay installation of an ignition interlock device on their vehicle, for a minimum nine months on a first offence and up to five years for subsequent offences.
- Drug-impaired drivers will face the same consequences as drinking drivers.
- Drivers caught using their cellphone while driving for the second time within one year will have their vehicle seized for up to seven days.
- Drivers will face harsher penalties when they're traveling at 35 km/h or more over the speed limit.
- Booster seats will be mandatory for children under seven years of age, less than 145 cm (4'9") in height and under 36 kg (80 lbs) in weight.
- Photo radar will be piloted at three high-risk locations across the province and in school zones.
Motorcyclists will also note changes, with a focus on new riders:
- Riders in the Motorcycle Graduated Driver Licensing (MGDL) program and their passengers will be required to have their arms and legs covered, wear hand-covering gloves, ankle covering boots, and either an approved three-quarter, modular or full-face motorcycle helmet.
- MGDL riders will have to place a placard on their license plate to indicate they are a new rider.
- Drivers will be required to hold a Class 5 or higher driver's license before applying for a motorcycle learner's license.
- New riders will have to demonstrate their ability to operate a motorcycle through a basic ability test or successfully complete an approved training program, before getting a motorcycle learner's license.
For more information about these traffic safety changes, visit SGI's website at www.sgi.sk.ca.
When plating and insuring your vehicle in Saskatchewan, whether it be your winter beater or your brand new SUV, it's important to understand your options and what you are getting in terms of coverage and deductible.
When purchasing an Auto Policy, you are not just plating your car, you are getting a customizable insurance policy that protects you and your family from loss not covered by basic plate insurance. You gain several key additions including:
- Increased liability coverage from $1 million to $5 million
- Lower deductibles from $500 to $50
- Waived deductibles if you hit wildlife or have damage due to fire, lightning or theft
- Rental car coverage (which includes protection against damages to the vehicle)
- Increased injury benefits
- Replacement cost coverage on brand new vehicles (must be insured within 120 days of vehicle delivery)
- If your vehicle is totaled in the first 24 months, your deductible may be waived and your vehicle is replaced
- If your vehicle is repairable, only new parts will be used
- If your vehicle is leased your original purchase price is protected, covering the difference between what you owe your leasing company and the actual cash value of the vehicle
- Loss of use coverage for alternative transportation in the event of a claim
- Road hazard glass coverage including chip repair
There are many examples of how an Auto Policy can provide necessary benefits in coverage. For instance, if you injure a high salaried person in a collision and must pay to supplement their lost income, Auto Policy pays for costs not covered by basic plate insurance. You may face significant financial hardship if you're found at fault for damaging someone's property or if someone gets injured.
Getting the right protection is about the best combination of basic plate insurance and an Auto Policy tailored to your needs.
Vehicle accidents can be anywhere from annoying to expensive to deadly, and winter driving conditions only ramp up the odds of having a collision. To help protect you, your family, your neighbourhood and your pocketbook here are some essential winter driving tips from SGI. Even if you've been driving icy Saskatchewan roads for decades there is no better time for a refresher than now!
- Be sure to wipe loose snow off the hood of your vehicle so that it doesn't blow onto your windshield and obstruct your vision while you drive.
- Ensure that your headlights, taillights and licence plates are visible, and that your windows are completely defrosted before you hit the road.
- If possible, switch to winter tires. Their deep treads are ideal for clearing away snow, giving you maximum traction and control.
- Studded tires are a good choice on wet roads when the temperature is near zero. However, they don't outperform winter tires in freezing conditions.
- Check the tire pressure often to help prevent a blowout. Your owner's manual or the tire's sidewall will indicate the proper pressure - usually between 30 and 33 lb/in2 for an average passenger car. Just don't forget that tires lose pressure at the rate of 1 lb/in2 for every 5° C drop in temperature.
Winter driving guidelines
With so much attention paid to winter driving preparations, it's easy to forget about the driving itself.
- When you're on the road, remember to give yourself more time to reach your destination. Start your trip slowly, testing your braking and steering to 'get a feel' for the road.
- Once you've reached a level of comfort, you can gradually increase your speed. The key is to maintain control of your vehicle at all times, even if that means driving under the posted speed limit.
- Stay alert as you approach intersections. Scan the road for traction, such as sand or bare pavement, and always accelerate and decelerate gradually.
- If you do find your vehicle skidding, remain calm and take your foot off the accelerator. Don't lock the brakes. Instead, brake steadily, look where you want to go and steer in that direction.
- Try to avoid using cruise control on the highway during the winter. Icy sections on otherwise dry surfaces can cause your wheels to spin, compromising your control of the vehicle and putting you at risk of a collision.
- Leave at least a 3-second following distance between your vehicle and the 1 in front of you. If the driver ahead of you suddenly brakes, you'll have the time and space needed to stop safely, ensuring that you and everyone on the road arrives at their destination safely.
As of June 19th, SGI will be using a new set of questions regarding your Vehicle Registration eligibility in Saskatchewan. They will be using different questions to determine residency within the province, and to gather more information on the use of vehicles (be it for passengar or commericial use). A more in depth series of questions will be required when using vehicles for commercial purposes, which will relate to the types of industry the vehicle will be used within.
Another new feature will be vehicles bought out of province may be eligible for a 28 day deferral from inspection if they have the proper documentation. Please call our office during operating hours for details on what specific documents will be required for your out of province vehicles being registered in Saskatchewan (888-450-2700).