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Seat belts save lives because they are the first line of defense for you and passengers in your vehicle against injuries or death when riding in an automobile. Driving without a seat belt is a big gamble, but taking just a few moments to buckle up can make the difference between a safe ride home or a trip to the emergency room.

 

Teen Wearing a Seatbelt

 

Seatbelts are a vital component of any automobile, and they’re designed to accommodate all sizes of people due to their elasticity. They offer an important benefit to toddlers and provide parents with peace of mind that their kids are well protected during transit.

Wearing a seatbelt provides the safety of surviving any car accident and provides invaluable health benefits. Regardless of the speed that you’re travelling, seat belt users can feel more secure with a higher sense of safety from life threatening injuries due to accidents. Using a seatbelt reduces the likelihood of neck injuries and it guards against the user crashing into the windshield upon a sudden stop. In a serious car accident, the seat belt prevents the user from being thrown completely out of the car through the windscreen upon impact.

Wearing a seat belt can save your life, but only if you wear it properly. The shoulder belt should not go under your arm, but over your shoulder and it should be snug to your body. An improperly worn shoulder belt can crush your ribs or injure your internal organs. The lap belt should be worn low over your hips, not across your stomach. If worn properly, the seatbelt will apply most of the collision or stopping forces across the chest and pelvis, which are better able to withstand collision forces.

Seat Belts and the Law:

According to the Ministry of Transport’s website, every person travelling in a motor vehicle must wear a seat belt or use a child safety seat. The penalty for seat belt infractions is a fine between $200 and $1,000. A driver can be charged and face a fine totaling $240 ($200 set fine, $35 victim surcharge, $5 court costs) and two demerit points for seat belt infractions. Demerit points remain on a driving record for two years from the date of the offence.

Drivers are responsible for ensuring that passengers under 16 years of age are using the seat belt or an appropriate child car seat. Motor vehicle drivers who fail to ensure that children in their vehicle are properly secured in a seat belt or child car seat could be charged and face a fine totaling $240 ($200 set fine, $35 victim surcharge, $5 court costs) and two demerit points and risk injury to the child.

Pregnant women must wear seat belts, wearing the lap and shoulder belt and sitting as upright as possible. The lap belt should be worn low so it pulls downward on the pelvic bones and not directly against the abdomen.

At all times, limit the number of occupants in your vehicle to the number of seat belts. Unbelted occupants can become projectiles during a collision and can seriously injure themselves, other passengers or the driver.

You must wear a seat belt whenever you travel in a motor vehicle, including a taxi. It is the taxi driver’s responsibility for ensuring that passengers under the age of 16 are wearing seat belts. The law does not require the taxi driver to provide a child car seat. When travelling in a taxi with a child, you may provide your own child car seat or booster seat.

Over 92 percent of Ontarians wear their seat belt regularly. The 8 percent who do not represents over 600,000 people. Statistics show that for every one percent increase in seat belt use, there are five lives saved in Canada. Since seat belts were made mandatory, the number of people killed and injured in collisions in Ontario has steadily dropped. Ontario was the first province to pass a law that required vehicle occupants to wear seat belts. The law came into effect on January 1, 1976. http://www.mto.gov.on.ca

For more information on Ontario’s seat belt laws, see section 106 and regulation 613 of the Highway Traffic Act.

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