by Morinville News Staff

Motorists who like to drive around town unencumbered by seat belts would be wise to buckle up, particularly this month.

March has been designated Occupant Restrain Month under the Alberta Traffic Safety Plan. Each month RCMP, Sheriffs, and their enforcement partners target a different aspect of traffic safety to educate the public.

Local RCMP members and other law enforcement members will be ramping up their efforts to encourage greater use of seatbelts and child car seats this month.

But police are looking for more than a way to save drivers from a ticket; they are hoping to save lives with the reminder.

RCMP say seat belts distribute the force of a collision evenly to the stronger parts of the body. At 50 kilometres per hour, a vehicle comes to an abrupt stop in 1/100th of a second. An unrestrained occupant weighing 80 kilograms (176 pounds) will strike whatever they hit first with a force of 2,785 kilograms (6,215 pounds).

Police say a significant portion of traffic injuries and fatalities result from vehicle collisions where people get ejected from the vehicle.

Although the police have seen an increase in the number of motorists and passengers buckling up in the past few years, there is still room for improvement.

They cite Canadian statistics that show 40 per cent of those killed and 20 per cent of those injured on Canada’s roads do not use seat belts.

Under the law, responsibility for passengers under 16 years of age being buckled up correctly rests with the driver.

Children under 40 lbs (18 kg) or the age of six must be secured in an appropriate child seat, installed correctly in the vehicle.

The fine for not wearing a seatbelt is $115. No demerit points are issued. Passengers are not exempt from receiving fines if they are not buckled up.

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