Written by: Dale Orlando
Wearing a seatbelt is one of the easiest and most effective ways to protect yourself from injury or death in a motor vehicle collision. It can save your life. It’s also the law.
Statistics from Transport Canada indicate:
- Seatbelts save approximately 1,000 lives a year in Canada
- 7% of Canadians regularly do not use their seatbelts
- 5% of drivers fatally injured in traffic accidents were not wearing a seatbelt
When a motor vehicle accident takes place, there are multiple “collisions” that actually occur. The first is the crash; the car hits a vehicle, a person, the guardrail or another object. The second is the human collision. In the few seconds it takes for the car to come to a stop, the passengers inside continue travelling at the speed the car was going before the crash. If they are not wearing seatbelts, passengers fly forward until they collide with something strong enough to stop them. Usually, this is the dashboard, other passengers, or even the ground outside the vehicle. After this, a third collision occurs as passengers’ internal organs slam against their bones or other organs. Because of the incredible force that occurs inside the body, this part of a motor vehicle accident is the one that causes serious injury and death. As a personal injury lawyer in Toronto, I see this all too often.
Using a seatbelt is beneficial because it restricts the amount of movement that passengers have. Rather than slamming into the dashboard, bodies hit the locked seatbelt and bounce back into place against the seat. Buckling up also reduces the risk of being ejected from the vehicle through the windshield. Also, seatbelts are designed to absorb the impact of a crash where your body is the strongest – in the bones of your hips, shoulders and chest.
Every province and territory has seatbelt laws, with varying degrees of consequences if broken. In Ontario, fines start at $240 and 2 demerit points. Additionally, drivers are responsible for ensuring that any passengers under the age of 16 are bucked up. Everyone in the car must wear a seatbelt, including those sitting in the backseat or in taxi cabs.