SASKATOON -- Changes coming into effect Feb. 1 will increase fines for first time and second time distracted driving offenders.

Distracted driving refers to two laws – using a cell phone while driving and driving without due care and attention, SGI spokesperson Tyler McMurchy said.

“The only thing that is changing is the cost of the ticket and most distracted driving tickets are related to cell phone use and the vast majority are simply issued to people driving around with their phones in their hands or watching videos on their device,” McMurchy said.

Fines for first offences of distracted driving will increase to $580 from $280 with four demerits charged to the offender’s license.

A second offence within a year of being convicted of the first will cost drivers a $1,400 ticket plus four demerits and the immediate seizure of a vehicle for seven days.

A third offence within a year of conviction of the first will get a $2,100 ticket, lose an additional four demerit points and face another seven-day vehicle seizure.

Distracted driving has continued to increase over the last three years, according to the province.

“Over the past 10 years driving distraction inattention has been the single leading human factor in injuries and collisions in our province,” said Joe Hargrave, minister responsible for SGI.

“Fortunately it’s easy to avoid one of these tickets - just leave your phone alone.”

In 2019 Saskatoon police charged 3,500 drivers for cell phone use behind the wheel.

SGI monitors rates of distracted driving each month and will be analyzing February’s results to see if the increased fines will decrease the number of people who drive distracted.