Coalition buckling down for safety

The Rainy River Valley Safety Coalition is taking the challenge–“The Seat Belt Challenge,” that is.
Volunteers will be standing along streets in Fort Frances, Emo, and Atikokan this Saturday from 1:30-3:30 p.m. to count how many people are wearing seat belts as part of the annual provincial campaign, which runs Oct. 3-17.
“I’d like to see a 90 percent compliance rate for seat belt use throughout the district,” said RRVSC co-ordinator Elaine Caron, adding all results would be sent to the Ministry of Transportation.
The MTO will tally the results by community.
Last year, the 130 participating communities in Ontario recorded an average 89 percent compliance rate. But Caron said that number dropped in smaller communities because people feel they’re just driving a short distance so there’s no need to buckle up.
A car seat safety clinic will be held in conjunction with the seat belt count Saturday from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. at Sunset Country Ford (corner of King’s Highway and McIrvine Road).
The dealership will supply free coffee and doughnuts to those who come in to have their child seats checked, which takes about 20 minutes.
At a child seat clinic in June, only one of the 46 vehicles checked had the seat installed correctly.
“[But] the first time, everybody failed,” Caron said.
“The bonus this year is we’re going to be having two mechanics on hand to install the tether bolts free of charge,” she added, noting Sunset Country Ford and Causeway Pontiac-Buick-GMC were donating the labour for that.
MacDonald Motors also has a blanket policy where it will install a tether bolt free of charge in any vehicle it sells.
“All it takes is 20 minutes to make sure your child is safely and properly restrained,” Caron stressed.
In related news, the local OPP will be joining in “Operation Impact,” a nation-wide campaign targeting speeders, impaired drivers, and those not wearing seat belts, on Saturday.
“Over a 24-hour period, we target high-risk drivers,” said Cst. Mark Boileau, noting this was the third year the OPP will be taking part in the campaign to reduce deaths through education and enforcement.
Of the 923 vehicles stopped in the Rainy River District during last year’s “Operation Impact,” 11 seat belt charges were laid. There were no impaired driving or speeding charges.