Regina, Saskatchewan -- July 5, 2016 -- This year, Saskatchewan’s seat belt law is turning 40. In 1977, Saskatchewan became the third province in Canada to mandate seat belts, after Ontario and Quebec introduced laws the year before.
While the mandate was a good start to improving safety on the road, it was initially far from perfect. “Seat belt legislation has come a long way over the last 40 years,” said Earl Cameron, Executive Vice-President of the Auto Fund. “When initially introduced, only drivers, front-seat passengers and children under 16 years of age were required to wear them. Today, it includes everyone in the vehicle, and there are additional child safety seat requirements for children under the age of seven.”
Seat belt laws have had enormous effects on vehicle safety. Saskatchewan Government Insurance (SGI) found that in 1986, the earliest year with available data on the subject, 111 individuals who were not wearing seatbelts were killed in collisions in Saskatchewan, and 2,699 were injured. The 111 individuals who were killed account for 61 percent of all vehicle related deaths in 1986. Those injured accounted for 35 percent of vehicle related injuries.
Years later, these numbers have changed drastically thanks to seat belt laws, which have become more integrated into expected driving practices. According to SGI, in 2016 the numbers dropped substantially, to just 25 deaths and 155 injuries. According to Cameron, wearing a seatbelt reduces your risk of being injured or killed in a car crash by about 50 percent.
Despite these improvements, neglecting to use a seat belt, or the improper use of seat belts is one of the top contributing factors in Saskatchewan automobile fatalities. Last year, 4,122 drivers were convicted for not wearing a seat belt, and 266 were convicted for having a passenger under the age of seven not wearing a seat belt.
For more information, please visit sgi.sk.ca.