March is ‘Occupant Restraint Month,’ and the Boyle RCMP, along with other local authorities, will promote the education and importance of buckling up with an increase of seatbelt check-stops throughout the region.
“There will be zero tolerance,” stressed Boyle RCMP Cpl. Sonny Kim, referring to those who choose not to adhere to the provincial law.
Police will also be checking to make sure that children are properly restrained, whether it is in a child or booster seat.
“What’s the most important cargo you’re carrying?” Kim said, advising that people should not use second-hand child seats or one that’s been involved in an accident, as it could cause a defect in the seat.
Several misconceptions exist when it comes to seatbelt use that Kim would very much like to debunk. The idea that you don’t have to wear a seatbelt if you’re only driving a short distance; believing that even if you buckle up, it won’t make a difference; that if you get trapped in your car, you’re more likely to get hurt; the notion that pregnant women should not wear a seatbelt; or that passengers are exempt from the consequences of fines.
Kim said that from his experience, a person is “85-90 per cent less likely to get injured” if they’re properly restrained.
“I’ve been to many (traffic) fatalities … most were not wearing their seatbelt.”
Simple laws of physics support Kim’s statement; when there is nothing holding an occupant back, they will be thrown forward during a collision, whether into the steering wheel or out of the vehicle completely.
“On the highway, speed is a contributing factor, but a seatbelt is a direct cause (of harm or death) if you have no protection.”
Kim indicated that high-speed collisions are not the only incidences that can result in an injury, as under-40 km impacts cause several each year.
“People don’t expect it,” Kim explained, saying that these types of accidents frequently bring about whiplash and other neck injuries.
In Alberta, there is a $115 fine for not wearing a seatbelt while driving, and in addition to themselves, the driver of the automobile is responsible for everyone under the age of 16, so ‘click it, or ticket.’
It is estimated that the proper use of seatbelts saves approximately 1,000 lives in Canada every year. And according to Transport Canada, nearly 40 per cent of drivers and passengers killed in collisions were not buckled in at the time of the crash.
So it’s safe to say that it only takes a matter of seconds to save a lifetime.