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March focus on seatbelts

Posted on March 17, 2016 by Vauxhall Advance

Nikki Jamieson
Vauxhall Advance

With Alberta Transportation’s traffic safety focus emphasizing occupational restraints.

Every day, approximately 200,000 Albertans don’t wear a seatbelt, risking not only their own lives but also the lives of others around them.

“Seatbelts are the single most cost-effective lifesaving device we have to protect us in a motor vehicle collision,” said Jason Wierenga, Taber/Vauxhall RCMP constable. “For the cost of a seatbelt, what it costs to have them installed in vehicles, the extra cost to a driver – which is essentially nothing once you have your vehicle – for the amount of protection that you get from it, that is probably the best thing that you could do for almost free, once you have your car.”

In most vehicles, there is a ‘life space’ for passengers, which are designed to withstand the force of most impacts. Seatbelts and other such restraints are designed to safely keep its occupants in these spots, should an accident occur.

“My personal experience has been that the people wearing their seatbelts are less likely to be seriously injured, then the people not wearing their seatbelts, and that’s just based on the collisions that I’ve personally attended,” said Wierenga, adding that he hasn’t attended any recent collisions where the occupants were unbuckled.

“I think people are pretty good about wearing seatbelts, I do see people wearing seatbelts quite frequently, but at the same time, I have to be honest and say we do find people who fail to wear their seatbelts.”

In Alberta, it is required by law for all drivers and passengers to wear a seatbelt in a motor vehicle. Fines for traffic infractions have recently been increased, and there is a fine of $155 for each person in a vehicle that is not wearing a seatbelt, and the driver is responsible for each child under 16 years old who is not wearing one. This includes children who should be in child safety seats but are not.

Child seats are recommended for those under nine years of age, weigh less than 80 pounds or are less than 58 inches tall. Studies have shown that without these seats, children are four times more likely to be seriously hurt in the event of an accident.

“Seatbelts I think are better designed to fit a larger mass. So the booster set helps younger children or those weighing less.”
Taber/Vauxhall RCMP will be hosting an event on child safety seats on Friday, March 18, from noon to 2 p.m. at the Taber Fire Department, where a number of qualified professionals can answers any questions or concerns a parent or caregiver might have on them.

Every year across Canada, about 1,000 people die in accidents from not wearing a seatbelt. Wearing a seatbelt can reduce the chances of fatal or serious injury by up to 65 per cent, as it distributes the force of a collision evenly to the stronger parts of a person’s body.

Between 2010 and 2014, there were 358 fatalities caused by not wearing seatbelts in Alberta, and almost 30 per cent of those were men ages 18-24 years old.

The invention of the seatbelt is credited to English engineer George Cayley, better known for his work in aeronautics, in the mid 1900s as a harness of sorts in his glider.

The first seatbelt law was in 1970 in the state of Victoria, Australia, when it became mandatory for drivers and front seat passengers to wear them, after a trial period in police vehicles lowered incidents of officer fatalities and injuries.

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