Seatbelts, An Automatic Habit

SeatbeltOne would think that wearing a seatbelt would be an automatic habit for today's drivers and their passengers. The seatbelt law has been in place for many years and the benefits of being properly buckled up have been clearly demonstrated. However, ICBC seatbelt surveys still show that a significant percentage of vehicle occupants don't buckle up, especially on rural roads. 50% of fatalities in Canada occur with unbelted drivers on those roads.

Road Safety Vision 2010 contains a component called the National Occupant Restraint Program which calls for a target of at least 95% compliance for restraint use. RCMP Traffic Services have agreed to be held responsible for meeting the goals of RSV2010 and will be devoting 30% of enforcement time to insuring proper occupant restraint use.

For those of us who do not yet wear seatbelts or use child restraints on a regular basis, black clouds are gathering on the horizon. The Superintendent of Motor Vehicles advises that he will no longer issue a permanent medical exemption from seatbelt use. The BC Medical Association advises doctors that there is no valid medical reason for a permanent seatbelt exemption, although doctors may still grant a temporary exemption on medical grounds if the proper form is completed.

The biggest change is hinted at in recent activity in the BC Legislature. Bills 3 and 4 have received third reading and will remove the maximum fine of $100 and the need to seek approval from the Chief Justice for changes in violation ticket penalties. Speculation is that the penalties for failing to use or using occupant restraints improperly is about to become very expensive financially.

Today would be a good day to read or re-read the section of your vehicle's owner's manual detailing the proper use of occupant restraint. Follow those guidelines carefully and smile as you pass through our next occupant restraint check without being stopped!

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