The split-second decision to buckle up can make a huge difference when motorists are involved in collisions. Every year, RCMP respond to highway collisions where seatbelt use means survival. It means people get to go home to their families.
Buckling up is a simple thing to do, but the benefits are huge. When a vehicle strikes an object at highway speed, the force of the impact is tremendous, turning unbuckled passengers into missiles within the vehicle who can harm themselves and other passengers.
The occupants of the vehicle are in a very vulnerable position if they are not appropriately restrained. In two-vehicle collisions, those unbuckled will often hit the dash first. In single-vehicle rollovers, the driver or passengers frequently will be found ejected and crushed by the vehicle.
“Seatbelts have been around for a long time, and they do save lives,” said Corporal Bob Dowd, RCMP Traffic Collision Reconstructionist. “The sad part is that in many cases, had the drivers and passengers been buckled, they would have survived the crash.”
On average, about 40 per cent of people killed in traffic collisions in rural Manitoba are unbelted or not wearing a helmet. That represents about 35 people each year.
Under the Highway Traffic Act, the fine for failing to wear the seatbelt is $292.
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