As police forces across Ontario drive home the message of safety as part of their yearly fall seat belt campaigns, there's a little-known fact you won't find among the slogans and statistics. 

New numbers compiled by CBC News show that while the frequency of on-duty crashes involving police are decreasing, officers killed in the line of duty aren't always buckled up. 

Among the nine Ontario police officers who've died in car crashes in the last 12 years, five of them weren't wearing a seat belt when they lost their lives, according to data from Ontario's Ministry of Transportation.

Those numbers aren't lost on Guelph police chief Bryan Larkin. In March, one of the officers on his force, Const. Jennifer Kovach, died on duty when her cruiser struck a Guelph transit bus.

"It's a startling number and it's one that is preventable," Larkin said.

"It hits home locally with the recent death on duty collision with Const. Jennifer Kovach, where speed and road conditions and the officer was not wearing a seatbelt certainly contribute to all these pieces," he said.

Guelph Coun. Gloria Kovach, Jennifer's mother, has questioned why her daughter didn't wear her seatbelt, considering she was teased in police college for always wearing it. Kovach was not available for an interview about the matter.

Larkin, meanwhile, says he knows he has work to do.

"So for a chief from my perspective, one of my commitments is moving that agenda across Ontario about how do we improve road safety for our members?" he said.

Waterloo Region Police Service chief Matt Torigian says in some departments, there is still a problem when it comes to police culture.

"There are still some officers, as you know, some officers who just don't wear their seatbelts. It's getting smaller and smaller," he said. 

"The culture is changing, there is a shift. We have extremely high conformity here in Waterloo Region. We are trying to make sure we have a healthy culture...but at times, culture is a hard thing to change."

Torigian said in an interview that officers can't risk being seen as above the law. The only way to achieve change, he said, is to acknowledge the problem and have an open discussion. 

The MTO said overall, the number of collisions involving police vehicles declined by 18.1 per cent, from 1,357 in 2001 to 1,112 in 2010. 

There were 30 fatal collisions involving police vehicles in Ontario between 2001 and 2010, as well as 3,123 injury collisions and 10,199 property collisions.

with files from Colin Butler