Ontario tightens seatbelt law

Two days after an horrific car crash that left four people dead near Caledon, Ont., the provincial government introduced new seatbelt legislation that would require every person in a motor vehicle to wear a seat belt.

The proposed one-person one-seatbelt legislation was introduced at Queen’s Park on October 16. Ontario’s current seatbelt law has been in force for 30 years.

As it stands, the law requires that “all Ontario motor vehicle drivers and passengers occupying a seating position for which a seatbelt is provided must wear the seatbelt in a properly adjusted and securely fastened manner.”

However, the existing law does not restrict a passenger without a given seatbelt in a motor vehicle from riding. That’s what the new legislation hopes to do.

“We want to prevent people from getting into a vehicle that doesn’t have enough seatbelts,” said Donna Cansfield, Ontario’s Minister of Transportation .

“(Today), I have introduced legislation that would require one seatbelt for every passenger in a vehicle.”

Conservative MPP John O’Toole, the Progressive Conservative shadow minister for transportation, backs the government’s seatbelt push. “We do support this new legislation and our caucus will support it,” O’Toole said.

Despite the approval from Progressive Conservatives, O’Toole believes there are certain aspects of the legislation that need to be clarified for better understanding of the proposed legislation.

“We’d like a broader, very quick but thorough, expedited consultation with the Canadian Safety Counsel and other experts to make sure that we’re getting it right,” he said.

According to O’Toole, a small section in the proposed legislation allows the Transport Minister to exempt people from compliance of the one-person one-seatbelt rule.

Mr. O’Toole believes a full clarification should be provided about the circumstances in which those exemptions could be granted.

“We’ve pledged to work cooperatively with the government to make sure that we get the bill through as quick as possible yet not without due concerns, but it won’t be delayed,” he said.

O’Toole says, Ontario’s previous Transportation Minister, Harinder Takhar, was lobbied by the Canadian Safety Counsel in 2005 regarding the revision of the current seatbelt law. O’Toole believes the province should have addressed the seatbelt issue before the Caledon tragedy.

He quotes a Canadian Safety Counsel study which revealed that: “(For) every percentage point increase in seatbelt use results in 23 fewer deaths and 515 fewer injuries nationally.”

”We just believe if you’re vowing to go through the legislative process redrafting amendments to the Highway Traffic Act, that you should be responsible and thorough, as opposed to just responding to a single incident,” O’Toole said.
Faye Lyons, a government relations specialist at Canadian Automobile Association (CAA) believes the new one-person one-seatbelt legislation is a positive step that would improve the system. She said the CAA approves of the new legislation.

“We did believe that an amendment should be made in to the current seatbelt law and we support Minister Cansfield’s new legislation,” she said.

Lyons said the CAA has always encouraged people to ensure that before operating a motor vehicle all of the passengers into the vehicle are secured with seatbelts.
“We support a seatbelt law that restricts the number of car passengers to match the number of belts, and make it mandatory for all occupants to where seatbelts,” Lyons said.

The one-person one-seatbelt legislation recieved Royal consent on Nov.2, and would take enforce upon proclamations once all regulations are filed.

Filed from The Centre for Creative Communications