05/21/2013 01:18 EDT | Updated 07/21/2013 05:12 EDT

All-party committee holds hearings on how to reduce Saskatchewan traffic deaths

REGINA - An all-party government committee is looking for public input on how to reduce traffic-related deaths in Saskatchewan.

Hearings have started in Regina and are to be held across the province until mid-June.

Committee chairman Darryl Hickie says there need to be tougher laws for drunk drivers, drivers who text or talk on cellphones or people who are generally driving dangerously.

Hickie, a Saskatchewan Party MLA, hopes to have a report with recommendations ready for the government by the end of August.

Public hearings will also be held in Saskatoon, Estevan, Prince Alberta, La Ronge and Pelican Narrows.

Hickie says changes aimed at driver safety could be introduced as soon as the fall session of the legislature.

"We're looking at changing behaviours, changing driving habits," Hickie said Tuesday.

There are several areas that the committee will have to consider, he suggested.

"We're going to hear from (Saskatchewan Government Insurance) and the Ministry of Policing that maybe some new officers on the street, new enforcement techniques, maybe photo radar to curb speeding issues may be recommended."

Drivers need to realize that traffic safety starts with them, added Hickie, who is a former police officer.

"People forget that as you're driving 2000-plus pounds of metal and hardened steel down the road that ... you have to recognize that you're responsible for everything that happens when you are behind the wheel."

The committee made up of five government and two opposition politicians was struck in March after what officials said was the deadliest year ever on Saskatchewan roads — 175 traffic deaths.

(CKRM, The Canadian Press)