Saskatchewan recently celebrated 40 years of the seatbelt law in the books and yet, there are still those who choose to drive around without wearing one. This is why SGI has decided to shine February's Traffic Safety Spotlight on seatbelts and car seats.
"As hard as it is to believe," shared Tyler McMurchy, manager of media relations with SGI, "there are still people who do not wear their seatbelt."
He added that while approximately 90% of people do wear their seatbelt, the 10% who do not, are over-represented in traffic deaths.
"In 2016, 25% of vehicle occupants killed in Saskatchewan, were improperly restrained. That means they weren't wearing their seatbelt or they weren't wearing it properly. How is this still a thing?"
"It is the simplest thing you can do and the number one thing you can do to protect yourself while you are behind the wheel of a vehicle."
Drivers are also responsible to ensure that their passengers who are under 16 years are buckled up as well.
"You can be ticketed for each unrestrained child in the vehicle if you're the driver. That's a $175 fine and three safety rating points."
McMurchy clarified the rules surrounding car seats.
"Children must be restrained in the appropriate car or booster seat. Car seats are mandatory for children under 40 lbs. Booster seats are mandatory for children under seven years of age and under 80 lbs. or under 4'7"."
McMurchy also busted some myths and common excuses for not wearing a seatbelt along.
“I can just brace myself.”
You’re not strong enough. Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson is stronger than you, and he’s not strong enough. Coming to a sudden stop at 50 km/h turns a 70 kg person into the equivalent of a 1,400 kg projectile. It’s the same impact as falling from a four-story building.
“Seatbelts wrinkle my clothes.”
So does being strapped onto a stretcher. Having your clothes cut off your body at the hospital is also a bad look. You get the point.
“I don’t need to; I have airbags.”
Airbags are not meant to be the only restraint system you use. They are a supplemental restraint system. You’re much more likely to die in a collision if you are not wearing a seatbelt, even with airbags. If you’re not buckled in, you may be injured or killed by the force of a deploying airbag.
“I don’t want to get trapped.”
Then put on your seatbelt. You are five times more likely to be knocked unconscious and unable to escape a vehicle if you are not wearing one.
Flying headfirst through a windshield is also uncomfortable. Really, really uncomfortable.
“My parents never wore them.”
Knowledge evolves. People used to smoke in doctor’s offices, too.
“I’m in the backseat.”
That seat in front of you isn’t as soft as you think. And in a collision, unbelted passengers are projectiles and a danger to themselves and other occupants in the car. Search Irish seatbelt ad on YouTube for an illustration.
“I’m a good driver.”
Let’s assume that’s true. Do you think everyone else is? And what about unexpected hazards (icy patches of road, wildlife, mechanical failures).
“It’s better to be thrown clear of the car.”
The body of a vehicle is built to absorb the energy of an impact, and keep the passenger compartment intact. YOUR body is not nearly as good at absorbing the energy of an impact. You are three times more likely to be killed if you are ejected from a vehicle. And a National Highway Traffic Safety Administration study estimated you’re 17 times more likely to be ejected if you’re not wearing a seatbelt.
“I wasn’t going far.”
The majority of collisions happen within a few kilometres of home because that’s where you are driving most of the time.