With high winds and heavy snowfall/rain forecast for the North West region, the Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) reminds drivers to watch for Environment Canada alerts and avoid non-essential travel . Weather conditions are expected to cause significant delays and dangerous road conditions.
Whatever the weather, wearing a seat belt should be a top priority. The North West region has seen a sharp increase in the number of people killed in crashes in which failure to wear seat belts contributed to their deaths. In 2021, failure to wear seat belts was a factor in eight deaths from motor vehicle collisions. This is a 300% increase from five years ago (2016), when there were two people killed who were unrestrained.
In Ontario, all motor vehicle drivers and passengers are required by law to wear a properly fitted and securely fastened seat belt. If found guilty of this offence, the penalties include a fine between $200 and $1,000 and two demerit points. In 2021, 61 people were ticketed for not wearing a seatbelt on roads patrolled by the Ontario Provincial Police in the North West region.
Province-wide data shows us that vehicle occupants between the ages of 25 and 34 had the highest fatality rate, accounting for 24% of fatalities. The 15 to 24 age group was the second highest group, at 22.3%, followed by 35 to 44 year olds at 13.5% of those who died without wearing a seatbelt. In the North West region, drivers (vs. passengers) accounted for 75% of fatalities.
While the majority of road users understand the life-saving value of seat belts, the arsenal of excuses not to buckle up is costing road users their lives year after year. Excuses range from driving a short distance or at low speeds, seat belts being uncomfortable or no longer needed because of airbags, to the myth that wearing a seat belt will trap a person and make matters worse when driving. an accident, to name a few.
The Ontario Provincial Police reminds drivers and passengers that wearing a seat belt has been proven time and time again to save lives in a crash. Drivers are encouraged to set a good example for teens and other young drivers and passengers by strapping in on every ride, making sure they do too, and helping them form the habit of wearing this important rescue device.
We remind drivers that they are required by law to ensure they have appropriate (and properly fitted) child car seats for infants, toddlers and young children.
Ontario Provincial Police officers will do their part to keep motorists safe over the Easter long weekend, with a focus on seatbelt enforcement and the education across the province. Officers hope to see drivers and passengers make it a “zero expense” weekend, thanks to 100 per cent seat belt law compliance for all age groups.