One of the most important step before pulling out onto the road is to make sure every person in the vehicle is properly secured and the RCMP, as part of their #TrafficSafety social media awareness, are reminding drivers just how important a seat belt is.

Constable Mike Hibbs with the Alberta RCMP describes why drivers and passengers must be belted in.

"Seatbelts save lives. It is a proven fact that if you're in a vehicle and you're seatbelted in properly then you have a better chance of surviving a collision."

In 2018, 9,568 tickets were issued for improper seat belt restraint, a number Hibbs says is fairly consistent with past years.

"It's an amount that we see quite often every year," says Hibbs. "It's still quite high. It's a chance for us to get out there and educate people on buckling up."

Hibbs says that if a driver or passenger don't wear their seatbelts, they can experience serious injuries or even death in the case of a collision.

"The dangers of not wearing your seatbelt if you're in a collision, for example, (if) the vehicle rolls over, you have a chance of being projected from the vehicle, which causes serious injuries in itself. Also if you're in the vehicle and you're not belted in, you become a projectile yourself. The seatbelt is designed to keep you and your passengers safe in your seat."

In Alberta, wearing a seat belt is enforced by law, and Hibbs says that if RCMP pull a driver over for a seat belt infraction, they are in for a fine.

"For not having your seatbelt, it's a $155 fine. I just want to pass along that drivers of the vehicle, if you have children under the age of 16, you are responsible for them wearing their seatbelt, so if we stop someone under 16 in the vehicle not wearing a seatbelt, then the driver gets the ticket. Passengers over 16 years of age will be responsible for themselves obviously. It's $155 fine for every single seatbelt infraction in the vehicle."

In the case of children, booster seats are suggested as a seat belt is not always fitted for a smaller person.

"When it comes to children under the age of 13, they're safest in the backseat. The law in Alberta requires that children under 6 years of age and under 40 pounds be properly restrained in a car seat. Booster seats are the safest choice for children under the age of 9 and about 80 pounds. When the child hits that particular weight and about 4'9, then they can sit in a normal seat. It's advised for children not to travel in the front seat because of the airbag deployment."

Hibbs says the number of fatalities they saw in 2018 related to seat belt infractions was too many

"Last year, in 2018, we saw 32.7% of motor vehicle fatalities in Alberta RCMP jurisdictions and the deaths (...) were as a result of them not wearing their seatbelts. It's quite high, so we want to get that number down."

 

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