Some People Still Don't Wear Their Seatbelt

SeatbeltOver my lifetime so far, I've gone from a child who rode on a foam mattress in the back of our family station wagon on summer road trips to a grandfather who would not dream of driving anywhere without grand daughters safely buckled up in proper child restraints. Needless to say, wearing my own seatbelt has become a reflex action. I'm uncomfortable if I don't wear it and don't notice it when I do.

That said, it is still not uncommon to find people who are unbelted, even though B.C. has had mandatory seatbelt use rules since October 1977.

Transport Canada reports that B.C. met it's Road Safety Vision 2010 target of 95% compliance along with Quebec, Ontario and Saskatchewan. Citing Canada as a whole, 36% of fatally injured drivers and 38% of fatally injured passengers were not wearing their belts at the time of the collision. It is estimated that about 300 lives could be saved every year if everyone wore belts.

I wonder if some people cannot conceive of the tremendous forces that a person is subjected to during a collision. Occupant restraints are designed to help you ride them out safely.

We may think of seatbelts as being inflexible, yet even when properly fastened it could stretch enough during a collision to allow you to hit anything within 25 cm. Stretching is necessary to dissipate energy and that is evident during post crash examination.

I used to look for plastic smears on the belt surface from the D ring on the pillar by the wearer's shoulder. Enough heat built up between the belt and the ring that plastic on the ring surface melted onto the belt. If the plastic did not smear, the belt often left a fabric pattern imprint in it.

When the D ring was not plastic coated, a shiny line across the seat belt fabric could often be found.

I'm certain that in one collision I investigated, the unbelted rear seat passenger was thrown forward with such force that they tore the front passenger seat mounting bolts out of the floor. It is also possible that this contributed to the death of the person who was in that front seat at the time.

Most vehicles on the roads these days contain at least one airbag. The airbag is designed to protect you in a collision in conjunction with the seatbelt being properly worn.

If you do not wear your seatbelt properly the deployment of the airbag during a crash could cause serious injury or death instead of protecting you. I cannot stress enough the importance of reading and understanding the section on occupant restraints in your vehicle's owner's manual!

Another quirk I often notice is drivers who put their seatbelt on after they have started to drive or while they are pulling up to reverse and park. The time to deal with your seatbelt is before you move your vehicle or while your vehicle is stopped during the interval between driving forward and backing up. To do otherwise is a distraction and can interfere with your control over the vehicle.

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Comments

I've been wearing seatbelts

I've been wearing seatbelts since the fall of 1958 when we got a 59 Ford that had them installed. Won't say for sure but believe the dealership started bringing all their cars and pick-ups with seatbelts around 56 or 57. I think it was also a requirement starting in 1956 that B.C. Government employees wear seatbelts in government vehicles, know it was when I started in 1958.

What I have difficulties with is the exceptions, especially taxi drivers in cities where they are traveling in heavy traffic.

And why are school buses exempt? Many kids spend more time riding school busses than they do in the family car. The get use to not having to put a belt on. Whoever gave this exemption is a little short in the brain department. And saying it would be difficult for the driver or rescue team to un-belt the kids is absurd. Show me a 5 year old that can't get the belt off and out of the car. And equally so with the statement the seat backs are padded to prevent injury when the kids are flying around. People that use that excuse also believe that an air bag is all they need.

As much as I personally support seatbelt use I fail to see why so much effort is put in to enforce the rule. I would far prefer that rather than ticket for non-compliance of seatbelts that effort instead be put into enforcing Daytime Running Lights. Or at least combine the two. I can't count the number of times I have heard of people pulled over for seatbelts who have deactivated their DRL's and nothing is done. Even during safety blitz by CVSE and police DRL's are seldom written up.

If ICBC and the government are truly interested in reducing highway accidents lets go after something that improves the visibility of cars and trucks on the road. They could also incorporate DRL inspections at all weigh scales and handout cards at the border informing incoming drivers  that the use of headlights during daylight hours is a requirement in Canada.

Finally on my DRL rant why is U Haul permitted to rent vehicles in Canada that have not past Canadian import laws? I can't go to the states and import a vehicle unless I personally make the changes that bring it up to Canadian standards yet they let a rental company rent out vehicles to Canadian citizens that do not comply. Have to mention that GM vehicles do comply with the DRL provision, Ford and Chrysler don't. Again retarded thinking from our lawmakers. 

bad passenger habits

Ever notice how many passengers (usually female), like to put their feet up on the dashboard while riding? I saw a video of a passenger side airbag deployed with two 4 x 4s on the dash, other ends on the seat. In the crash, both pieces of lumber were shattered and forced through the windshield by the airbag. Am now on a personal crusade with friends and family to avoid that habit - comfortable though it may be.

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