Seat belt compliance big on OPP's safety checklist this long weekend

ORILLIA, ON, March 26, 2013 /CNW/ - With the Easter Long Weekend approaching and spring-like weather in store, the Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) is gearing up for one of the busiest traffic weekends on Ontario roads and highways since the start of the year.

Over the weekend, officers will have a watchful eye out for motorists who drive while impaired by alcohol or drugs, are distracted or driving aggressively, and they will be particularly focused on those who are not in compliance with seat belt laws. 

While the OPP will be highly visible throughout the province this weekend, when it comes to seat belt compliance, they are putting the onus where it belongs - on drivers and passengers (16 years of age and older).

Enforcing seat belt usage and other important legislation intended to reduce high risk driving behaviour is just part of the solution to keeping the motoring public safe this weekend and throughout 2013, according to OPP Deputy Commissioner Larry Beechey, Provincial Commander, Traffic Safety and Operational Support.

"While we are committed to doing our part, Ontarians need to adopt the mindset that keeping our roads safe has far more to do with the actions of drivers than the actions of police.  Taking a few seconds to buckle up makes far more sense than going through the motions of being pulled over, being issued a ticket, having to pay a minimum $240 fine and more importantly, it will go a long way to keeping you alive in the event of a collision," added Beechey.

The spring is an excellent time to remind the motoring public about seat belt safety because many motorists and passengers let their guard down with the onset of dry pavement, according to Chief Superintendent Don Bell, Commander of the OPP Highway Safety Division.  "For some people, saying goodbye to snow-covered roads and highways means they can lighten up on seat belt use and in the process they place themselves at greater risk of not surviving a collision than if they were buckled in," added Bell.

Throughout 2012, 71 people were killed in collisions (within OPP jurisdiction) in which lack of occupant restraint was a factor and so far this year (as of March 25, 2013), eight traffic deaths have been attributed to this causal factor.

This is a stark reminder that the high cost of human life associated with lack of occupant restraint is not seasonal and the OPP is reminding drivers that over and above buckling up, they are responsible for ensuring that all passengers under the age of 16 are using a seat belt or appropriate child car seat. 

The OPP is also issuing a timely public warning that 16 people have died in snowmobile incidents so far this year (as of March 25, 2013) and seven of those deaths have occurred within the last three weeks.  Snowmobile enthusiasts are urged to stay off all waterways and those who sled on land need to check conditions beforehand and exercise extreme caution as the warmer temperatures can cause deterioration of riding conditions within a matter of hours.

The OPP is committed to delivering on its Provincial Traffic Safety Program, which incorporates high police visibility, measurable outcomes, professional traffic stops and public education into their ongoing efforts to save lives on Ontario roads, trails and waterways.

LEARN MORE

Seat Belt Safety

Occupant Restraint: Are your children properly secured?

www.opp.ca

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SOURCE: Ontario Provincial Police

For further information:

Contacts by OPP Region: 

Highway Safety Division:  Sergeant Dave Woodford   Phone: (416) 553-5471
Central Region:  Sergeant Peter Leon   Phone: (705) 330-3738
East Region:  Sergeant Kristine Rae  Phone: (613) 284-4557
Northwest Region:  Sergeant Shelley Garr  Phone: (807) 473-2734
Northeast Region:  Sgt. Jim McGill   Phone: (705) 845-2751
West Region: Sergeant Dave Rektor Phone: (519) 652-4156


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