Toronto

OPP warns seatbelt-use slipping after mom caught holding toddler, baby in backseat

On Highway 407, police say a mother was caught with a 15-month-old and three-week-old baby sitting on her lap.

45 people have died this year while not buckled in, force warns

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Ontario Provincial Police say there's a disturbing increase in the number of people killed in car crashes who weren't wearing seatbelts, with a GTA-based officer saying mom was busted holding two young children in her arms during a recent stop.

So far in 2019, the OPP says 45 drivers and passengers have died on Ontario roads because of injuries that could have prevented by a seatbelt. Some were ejected from their vehicles or otherwise dangerously tossed around during a crash, the force said.

At this time last year, 36 people had been killed while travelling unbuckled.

"Kids put it on without thinking, but sometimes it's the adults that don't realize the risk that they're putting themselves in," said OPP Sgt. Kerry Schmidt.

However Schmidt was shaken up by one recent stop on Highway 407, which showed even young parents are taking huge risks.

Schmidt said an OPP officer found an 18-year-old mother travelling in a car unbuckled with a 15-month-old child in her lap. When the woman moved the child, the officer discovered a three-week-old baby also sitting on her lap.

None of the three were restrained in any way, Schmidt said, nor was the driver.

"As much as you think you can hold on to your precious baby, in the event of a collision there is not enough love in this world that will keep that baby in your arms," Schmidt said.

Police have not released any details about charges at this time.

During a collision, police warn the G-forces of an impact can make a 10 pound baby feel like the equivalent of 1,000 pounds.

In 2018, OPP laid a total of 14,090 charges related to seatbelt usage.

Not wearing a seatbelt typically accounts for around 15 per cent of deaths on Ontario roads.

Speed, alcohol and drugs, and distracted driving are the top three causes of fatal injuries.

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