February’s traffic safety spotlight

Some things are easy to forget. The password to your computer, your aunt’s birthday, the name of the actor in that movie about that thing. But – even for the most absent-minded among us – it usually takes only a couple of reminders to make something “click.”

Except, it seems, when it comes to seatbelts. During 2018’s Traffic Safety Spotlights, police reported more than 4,700 offences for failing to wear a seatbelt or not using the appropriate car seat for kids. That’s why February’s Traffic Safety Spotlight is on seatbelts and car seats.

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Police across Saskatchewan will be looking for people not wearing a seatbelt, wearing one improperly, or not having children properly secured in the vehicle.

Seatbelts have been the law in Saskatchewan for more than four decades, so the odds are pretty good that every single person who was handed a seatbelt ticket last year was already well aware they should have buckled up. So… why didn’t they? What’s it going to take to make it click?

“Whether it’s a conscious choice to not buckle up or it simply slipped your mind, travelling without a seatbelt has potentially deadly consequences,” said Penny McCune, Chief Operating Officer of the Auto Fund. “Wearing a seatbelt is the quickest, easiest way to substantially reduce your risk of death or injury in a crash.”

A National Highway Traffic Safety Administration study estimated you’re 17 times more likely to be ejected in a collision if you’re not wearing a seatbelt, and you’re more than twice as likely to die if ejected. Not only that, you put other occupants in the vehicle at risk if you are not secured in your seat in the event of an accident. So making that seatbelt click seems like a pretty good idea, doesn’t it?

Most people in Saskatchewan – more than 90 per cent according to most research – do wear seatbelts. The small number who don’t are highly overrepresented in traffic deaths. In 2017, 16 people were killed in vehicle collisions in Saskatchewan due to being improperly restrained or not buckled up at all. It was also a factor in 148 injuries on Saskatchewan roads.

Not wearing a seatbelt or driving with a child improperly restrained results is a $175 ticket and also costs the recipient three points under the Safe Driver Recognition program.

Drivers are responsible for ensuring that all passengers under the age of 16 are buckled up, and can be ticketed for each unrestrained child in the vehicle. It’s estimated that half of all kids under the age of 8 in Saskatchewan aren’t properly restrained when they’re in a vehicle. Have a little one travelling with you? SGI sponsors car seat clinics across the province throughout the year where you can learn how to properly install the seat in your vehicle and ensure your child is in the appropriate seat for their size and age.

SGI recommends these tips to make it click and keep you and your loved ones safe:

• Always #MakeItClick before driving or riding in a vehicle.

• When you #BuckleUp, make sure the lap belt sits across your hips and the shoulder belt fits over the middle of your shoulder and across your chest (don’t reposition the shoulder belt behind you or under your arm).

• Don’t let children 12 or under sit in the front seat of a vehicle.

• Ensure your child is in the correct car seat. Visit an SGI car seat clinic or book an appointment with a car seat technician.

• Put blankets and coats over child seat straps – remember, the fit should be snug; you should be able to fit only one finger between the harness straps and the child’s chest.

Follow SGI on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram for safety tips to #TakeCareOutThere.

© Copyright Yorkton This Week

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