Sometimes something so seemingly simple can save lives. Something as simple as taking those few seconds it takes to put on your seatbelt, also known as an occupant restraint, before you leave your driveway.
It seems like a no brainer, but there are still many out there who risk their own safety and do not regularly wear their seatbelts when riding in a vehicle.
This month is marked as Occupant Restraint Month, a time to emphasize the use of seatbelts for adults and children while they travel in vehicles.
“While Albertans have significantly increased their seatbelt use in the past 15 years, almost five per cent of Albertans still do not wear them regularly,” stated Minister of Transportation Wayne Drysdale. “Simply put, seatbelts save lives and we all need to wear them to make sure everyone gets home safely at the end of each day.”
According to a study by Alberta Transportation, from 2008 to 2013, there were 383 unbelted fatalities in the province. Twenty per cent of those fatalities involved 18 to 24-year-old men.
Using a seatbelt can improve your chance of surviving a vehicle collision from 45% to 65%, depending on the type of vehicle and exactly where you are sitting.
“The statistics speak for themselves, close to 95 per cent of the motoring public use occupant restraints yet almost a third of all vehicle fatalities in the province were as a result of occupants who chose not to buckle up,” said Deputy Director of Alberta Sheriffs Traffic Operations Rick Gardner. “To dramatically increase your chances of surviving injury or worse in a collision, please wear your seatbelt.”
There also appears to be a lack of awareness among parents and those who care for children of the critical role a booster seat plays in keeping little ones safe while traveling in a vehicle. A recent study completed by Parachute indicates that three-quarters of Canadian parents with children age four to nine do not use booster seats.
The study states that 42% believe that their child was too big for a booster seat, 23% thought that their child didn’t need a booster seat to be safe and 19% thought their child was too old for a booster seat.
Booster seats remain the safest choice for children who have out grown their toddler seat (over 40lbs). The Alberta government recommends for children under nine-years-old, that a booster seat be used until a weight of 80lbs or a height of 145 cm is reached.
It’s never to late to start a new habit, especially a habit that can determine the difference between life and death. Be safe and buckle up.