Preliminary numbers suggest there’s been a big drop in the number of distracted driving deaths on Saskatchewan roads.

Saskatchewan Government Insurance says 26 people were killed and nearly 600 injured in more than 3,300 collisions related to distracted driving last year.

“The 2014 numbers are still preliminary so that means they could change still a little bit, but we have seen quite a significant decrease since 2013 and even 2012 was one of the worst years that we have seen,” said SGI spokeswoman Kelley Brinkworth.

Non-attentive drivers caused more than 7,500 collisions in 2012 that cost 69 people their lives and caused 2,503 injuries.

Distracted driving often includes cellphone use behind the wheel, but also covers other activities such as eating, applying makeup or reading.

Legislation banning the use of hand-held cellphones while driving became law Jan. 1, 2010, in Saskatchewan. The province toughened the rules last year so that drivers caught breaking the law for the second time within one year will have their vehicles seized for up to seven days.

Brinkworth says it’s too early to know if the latest numbers are part of a bigger trend.

“I guess we’ll have to see do we see a further decrease when we get 2015 numbers. For right now, it’s certainly encouraging, but it’s really hard to say are we going to continue to see that decrease,” she said.

Distracted driving was the No. 1 factor in all crashes in Saskatchewan in 2012 and 2013 _ even ahead of impaired driving.

SGI says it is also the third-highest contributing factor in fatal crashes after impaired driving and speeding.



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