TBay OPP – Drive Safe this Long Weekend

With high winds and heavy snowfall/rain forecasted throughout North West Region, the Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) is reminding drivers to monitor alerts from Environment Canada and avoid non-essential travel. Weather conditions are expected to cause major delays and dangerous conditions on roads.

Regardless of the weather, wearing a seatbelt should be a top priority. North West Region has seen a sharp increase in persons killed in collisions in which not wearing a seatbelt was a contributing factor in their death. In 2021, lack of seatbelt use was a factor in eight fatalities as a result of motor vehicle collisions. This is up 300 per cent from five years ago (2016), when there were two persons killed who were not buckled up.

In Ontario, all motor vehicle drivers and passengers are required by law to wear a seatbelt that is properly adjusted and securely fastened. If convicted for this offence, penalties include a fine between $200 and $1,000 and two demerit points. In 2021, 61 individuals were ticketed for not wearing a seatbelt on OPP-patrolled roads in North West Region.

Province-wide data shows us that vehicle occupants between the ages of 25 and 34 had the highest rate of fatalities, accounting for 24 per cent of the deaths. The 15 to 24 year age bracket was the second highest group, at 22.3 per cent, followed by 35 to 44 year-olds at 13.5 per cent of those who died without wearing seatbelts. In North West Region, drivers (vs. passengers) accounted for 75 per cent of the deaths.

While the majority of road users understand the lifesaving value of seatbelts, the arsenal of excuses for failing to buckle up cost road users their lives year after year. The excuses range from only driving a short distance or at low speeds, seatbelts being uncomfortable or no longer needed because of airbags, to the myth that wearing a seatbelt will trap a person and make things worse during a crash, to name a few.

The OPP is reminding drivers and passengers that wearing a seatbelt has been proven time and time again to save lives in a collision. Drivers are encouraged to set a good example for teens and other young drivers and passengers by buckling up for every ride, ensuring they do too, and to help them form a life-long habit of wearing this important life-saving device.

Drivers are reminded that they are required by law to ensure they have proper (and properly installed) child car seats for babies, toddlers and small children.

OPP officers will be doing their part to keep the motoring public safe over the Easter long weekend, with a focus on seatbelt law enforcement and education throughout the province. Officers hope to see drivers and passengers make it a “zero charges” weekend, through 100 per cent seatbelt law compliance across all age demographics.