As March nears the halfway mark and spring crawls closer, Albertans are being reminded about the need for everyone in the vehicle to be buckled up properly.
Police forces across the province have been conducting enforcement this month, while also a number of education events have been held to ensure people know how important clicking-in is to their safety. Also a part of these events are free child restraint clinics, where individuals can have their child car seats inspected and/or installed by qualified inspectors.
Dean Vegso, community mobilization consultant Alberta Office of Traffic Safety (OTS), explained the education component of the project is important for OTS and Alberta Transportation reaching their goal of 100 per cent compliance.
“That is why we are partnering with various non-profit organizations on the child seat clinics and attending various trade shows. Doing that last year, we were about to touch base with around 17,000 people,” said Vegso.
According to Alberta Transportation statistics from 2016, occupant restraints decreased the rate and severity of injuries during a collision — as 6.8 per cent of those wearing a restraint injured versus 22.4 per cent of those that didn’t. In addition, 53 people died and 375 were injured in a 2016 collision due to not being properly restrained.
Proper use can reduce fatal and serious injuries by 45 to 65 per cent, depending on the vehicle type and seating position, while it’s estimated about 200,000 people out on Alberta roads currently don’t put on a seatbelt.
The ticket for not wearing or improperly using a seatbelt or child seat is $155, and the driver will receive the ticket for those under 16 that are not restrained properly.
Vegso admits not all Albertans can get their child seat looked at by a qualified inspector, so OTS has developed several online modules (www.albertaseatbelts.ca/TrainingModules) to help.
“Vehicle safety is a shared responsibility and, while we are trying to build capacity by encouraging communities to have certified technicians by offering training, we are not going to be able to get everywhere,” he stated.
“The modules go some way to actively addressing that and gives people with questions a place to go online that can be easily navigated. It also helps us reach a different, larger, and even isolated, audience with something everyone can access.”
In a release earlier this month, Alberta’s Minister of Transportation Brian Mason stated, “While we have come a long way in getting Albertans to buckle up, the number of people who do not use seat belts regularly is still too high. For everyone’s safety, please buckle up and make sure your children are in the proper safety seat before you shift into drive.”
And while the hope is everyone will buckle up, Vegso said there is only so much that can be done to get people to do it.
“In our message, we have to stay positive and remind people that buckling up is the right thing to do, because it can’t all be just about enforcement. There has to be the right balance to ensure everyone’s safety.”