Nearly one-third of fatal crashes in N.S. involved people not buckled up, say RCMP
'It could be a life or death situation. The seatbelt is your final line of defence'
RCMP in Nova Scotia are sounding the alarm about seatbelt safety, saying nearly one-third of deaths on provincial roads last year happened when people were not properly buckled up.
Fifteen fatal crashes on roads patrolled by RCMP in 2019 had at least one person who was not wearing their seatbelt, or was wearing one incorrectly, police said Tuesday.
That represents 27 per cent of the total 56 fatal crashes across Nova Scotia in 2019. More could be added as investigators wrap up cases that came in last year, said Cpl. Lisa Croteau.
The Mounties responded to a further 26 serious but non-fatal collisions last year where seatbelts were not being properly used.
"The number is too high. Everybody should be wearing their seatbelt, and that way it could prevent serious injuries or even a fatal collision," Croteau said.
The total of 41 serious or fatal crashes in 2019 aligns with recent years. In 2018, Croteau said 37 fatal or serious crashes involved people not wearing seatbelts properly, while in 2017 there were 52.
The numbers don't include serious or fatal crashes that happened in areas patrolled solely by local police forces.
'The seatbelt is your final line of defence'
Croteau said she's seen people who were wearing seatbelts walk away from collisions where wreckage covered the road.
Police hear various excuses about why people aren't using their seatbelts, but Croteau said it's always illegal unless someone has a current doctor's note explaining it's for a medical reason.
People sitting in the backseat often think they don't have to buckle up, but Croteau said they should because they are easily ejected from the vehicle during a crash.
"It could be a life or death situation. The seatbelt is your final line of defence," Croteau said.
When asked about the ages and locations of people who aren't buckling up, Croteau said it's "all across the board."
Thousands charged last year
In 2019, Nova Scotia RCMP laid over 1,523 charges for not wearing a seatbelt or wearing one incorrectly.
A seatbelt should be used properly and be in good condition, according to an RCMP release. It should only be worn as directed by the manufacturer, so a shoulder strap should not be tucked behind the back or under their shoulder.
"That's not going to protect them in a collision. It may cause actually more injuries," Croteau said.