Ontario’s seatbelt law celebrated its 35th birthday on Jan. 1.
Today, 92.8 percent of all Ontarians buckle up—that’s up from just 17.2 percent who wore seatbelts before the mandatory law took effect.
Ontario was the first province to require all drivers and passengers to wear a seatbelt.
The McGuinty government has since expanded the law to include:
•increased fines for seatbelt, child seat, and booster seat violations;
•a requirement that every vehicle occupant be buckled up (one person, one seatbelt); and
•the mandatory use of appropriate booster and child car seats at all times, whether children are driving with a parent, grandparent, or other caregiver.
Since Ontario’s seatbelt law first came into effect in 1976, the number of people killed and injured in motor vehicle collisions has dropped steadily.
It is estimated seatbelt use has saved more than 8,000 lives.
“The evidence is clear—buckling up could save your life and the lives of your loved ones,” said Transportation minister Kathleen Wynne.
“The OPP will continue to be diligent in our efforts to educate the public and enforce seatbelt legislation,” noted Larry Beechey, OPP Deputy Commissioner, Traffic Safety and Operational Support.
“There is no doubt—seatbelts save lives,” he stressed.
“The 35th anniversary of mandatory seatbelts in Ontario is a milestone to be celebrated,” remarked Mark MacLeod, president of the Ontario Medical Association.
“In the early 1970s, Ontario’s doctors advocated to make seatbelts mandatory and to introduce adequate restraint devices for infants and young children in the province to help save lives,” he noted.
“What was seen as a contentious first step 35 years ago has protected and saved countless lives,” MacLeod said.
A driver who is not wearing a seatbelt is more than 40 times more likely to be killed in a crash than one who is properly buckled.
The fine for seatbelt, child seat, and booster seat violations is $240 and two demerit points.