Seat belt campaign ongoing

Results from a weekend seat belt count by the Rainy River Valley Safety Coalition, together with a 24-hour “Operation Impact” blitz campaign by the local OPP, indicate most drivers and their passengers are complying with the law.
While final statistics haven’t been tallied yet on the seat belt count, RRVSC co-ordinator Elaine Caron said she noted more compliance than not as she sat watching traffic along King’s Highway near Canadian Tire on Saturday afternoon.
The annual count, which was part of a province-wide campaign headed up by the Ministry of Transportation, saw about 130 communities participate last year.
“I would consider it a very successful weekend,” Caron said, noting volunteers also has been set up at Central Avenue, Colonization Road East, along Scott Street, and near the waterfront.
Meanwhile, the OPP blitz saw 686 seat belt checks on Saturday between Rainy River and Atikokan, with only nine of those checks resulting in seat belt offence notices being issued.
One child seat offence also was issued, along with 30 seat belt warnings.
“The compliance rate was found to be pretty good,” Fort Frances OPP Sgt. Don Robertson said yesterday morning.
But he didn’t indicate the rate was markedly better than in previous seat belt campaigns, noting more than 10 percent of the driving public still disregards the law.
“I see no marked improvement in usage. People aren’t getting the message,” he said. “Every year there’s about 15 percent who don’t buckle up and the seat belt law has been around since 1976.”
But the message about complying with the seat belt also includes wearing it correctly, noted OPP Cst. Dave Lee.
A technical traffic collision investigator and accident reconstructionist, Cst. Lee warned about what injuries can result from a seat belt worn the wrong way–something he said occurs with frequency among adult occupants in a vehicle.
“Seat belts aren’t done up tight enough, or the shoulder strap is loose and people will say ‘It always rubs on my neck,’” he said, also noting that wearing the seat belt underneath the arm can pose a dangerous risk in an accident, especially to women.
“It’s not so bad for males but for females–as much as I don’t like to put it in these terms–it’s a good way to have a mastectomy,” he stressed.
Cst. Lee also said if people think they can trick a police officer into thinking they were wearing a seat belt at the time of an accident, chances are the evidence will show otherwise.
“If your vehicle stops [suddenly], you keep moving. If you’re wearing a seat belt, it will slow you down but you will get a rug burn right through layers of clothing,” he noted.
“But it’s better than eating a steering wheel or windshield,” he added.