Seat belts remain ‘first line of defence’

Driver buckling seat belt file photo courtesy of © Can Stock Photo / RTimages

If you get behind the wheel and feel safe with just the vehicle’s airbags, you may want to think again according to provincial police.

The Ontario Provincial Police said there have been 34 deaths so far this year where the victims of a crash were reportedly not wearing a seat belt. There were a total of 49 fatalities on Ontario roads last year linked to the same reason.

This has prompted the police force to remind drivers that airbags do not replace seat belts, adding that the two are designed to work together.

“Regardless of technological advances in vehicle safety, a seat belt remains your first line of defence and your best chance of surviving a collision,” said Deputy Commissioner Brad Blair in a news release. “While airbags are a second line of defence, they will not restrain you. Only your seat belt can hold you in place. Whether you are a driver or passenger, don’t let anyone in a vehicle be without their seat belt properly fastened.”

Police said without a seat belt, a head-on collision can become “catastrophic” when the occupants are launched toward the steering wheel, dashboard or windshield, even if the airbags deploy.

According to Transport Canada, 93 per cent of Canadians buckle up while in a vehicle, but the remaining seven per cent account for almost 40 per cent of fatalities in vehicle collisions.

The OPP are currently gearing up for their Fall Seat Belt Campaign and will be conducting education and enforcement initiatives aimed at getting people to buckle up and stay safe.