Nova Scotia

Nova Scotia mulls end to seatbelt exemptions

A review of Nova Scotia's seatbelt law is targeting people who aren't required to buckle up, from firefighters to patients with medical exemptions.

A review of Nova Scotia's seatbelt law is targeting people who aren't required to buckle up, from firefighters to patients with medical exemptions.

Select groups are currently exempt from the seatbelt law. This includes couriers and taxi drivers, and people in emergency vehicles.

A driver with a particular medical condition can also get an exemption through a doctor.

"A lot of issues come up and suggestions come up. This is one of them. And it's my understanding that the medical exemptions will be reviewed,"  said David Salter, with the provincial Transportation Department.

If Kim Mundle gets her way, this exemption will disappear. She specializes in seatbelt safety at the IWK Health Centre.

"There is no medical condition so severe that you would be safer without a seatbelt than with a seatbelt," said Mundle, a member of the Nova Scotia road safety advisory committee.

"Hitting the dash is going to hurt you way more than the rubbing of a seatbelt against your injured chest or abdomen."

Mundle said other exemptions are up for discussion too. She said they're simply out of date.

"Certainly nothing will change without consulting the people who are affected, but we're very in favour of seatbelts these days so we don't expect much opposition," she said.

The Halifax regional fire service, which makes seatbelts mandatory in its vehicles, is urging the province to end the exemption for all firefighters.

But Halifax cab driver Dwight Kelly doesn't want to buckle up. He has other safety concerns.

"It would not be smart at all because it creates an extra weapon for someone in the backseat to strangle you, the driver," said Kelly.

The government says the review of the seatbelt law is part of a national effort to make roads safer.

No changes to the legislation would be made before next year.

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