In Ontario, mandatory seat belt use is not new. In fact this law, which went into effect in 1976, has been around for 46 years. Yet far too many people today still ignore it. Since the start of 2022, the OPP has already laid approximately 1,000 seat belt charges on offenders.
Unfortunately, people who choose not to buckle up do more than break the law. These individuals risk suffering fatal injuries if they are involved in a car crash. Between 2012 and 2021, police say that not buckling up caused 542 people to die after the vehicle they were riding in crashed. Last year alone, there were 47 total deaths caused by not wearing a seat belt.
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Those Most Likely To Violate the Seat Belt Law
A recent news article reported that adult drivers between the ages of 25 and 34 are most likely to violate the seat belt law. This age group also sustained the highest percentage (24 per cent) of traffic deaths due to not wearing their seat belts. Teens and young adults, aged 15 to 24 years, accounted for slightly less fatalities, though still high, at 22.3 per cent. The lowest percentage of drivers and passengers (13.5 per cent) who died because they did not buckle up were between 35 and 44 years.
Why People Continue to Ignore the Seat Belt Law
Many people said they dislike wearing seat belts because they find them uncomfortable.
Despite solid proof that seat belts are effective at saving lives, people continue to believe false statements about buckling up, including:
- Seat belts are unnecessary when driving in light traffic or going on short trips
- Seat belts could trap a passenger and make them suffer worse injuries
- If a vehicle has airbags, wearing a seat belt is unnecessary
However, none of these statements are true. In fact, not wearing a seat belt with airbags is actually more dangerous. When an airbag deploys near an unbuckled passenger or driver, it can lead to serious or fatal injuries.
What is the Seat Belt Law in Ontario
Under the law, Ontario requires all drivers and passengers to wear properly adjusted and secured seat belts. Buckling up is not just something you must do as a driver. It also applies when you are a passenger in any vehicle, including a taxi or rideshare vehicle.
If you are the driver and there are passengers in your vehicle, it is your duty to be sure that:
- Each passenger in your vehicle has his or her own seat belt and properly buckles up
- Every infant or young child is properly fastened into an age, weight and height appropriate car seat
- Passengers under the age of 16 are properly secured
What Does it Mean to Properly Buckle Up?
Is there a wrong way to fasten your seat belt? Yes, there is. In fact, wearing your seat belt incorrectly could also be dangerous. The proper way to wear and secure your seat belt is:
- Make sure your seat belt crosses both your chest and lower hips – these areas of your body can take more force during a crash
- Check your seat belt to make sure no part of the belt is twisted
- Do not ever place the seat belt under your arm or behind your back – your belt cannot protect you properly if not fastened as intended
- Pregnant women should sit upright to fasten, making sure the belt is low and over the pelvis. The belt should not be fastened across the stomach.
Offenders Who Fail to Buckle Up May Be Cited
The OPP will continue to patrol and look for drivers and passengers who fail to buckle up. Cited offenders may be assessed with fines of between $200 and $1,000 and have two demerit points added to their licence. Drivers who operate their vehicle with a broken seat belt can also be fined. You are in violation of the law even if there is no passenger and even if the broken seat belt is not being used.
Last year saw an overall three per cent increase in fatal traffic accidents on OPP-patrolled roads from the prior year. Many of these deaths were due to speed-related crashes. When you combine a high-speed crash with not wearing a seat belt, the risk of a fatal crash is even greater.
Injured by a Negligent Driver? Schedule a Free Consultation Today
If you suffer injuries in a crash caused by a negligent driver, you may be eligible to seek compensation for your injuries and other losses. Our Windsor-based vehicle crash lawyers offer a free legal consultation to discuss your situation.
Our firm is available to take your call anytime, night or day. There are zero upfront fees for our services, so there is no risk to learn about your legal options. We are here to help.
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