Seat belt use low in Masset

  • Oct. 10, 2007 9:00 a.m.

Masset drivers have the worst seatbelt usage rate in north central BC, according to a new report prepared by ICBC. Only 74.6-percent of drivers were observed using seat belts in Masset. For the north central region as a whole, the seatbelt use estimate for drivers was 95.7 per cent. The highest rated community was 100-Mile House where 97 per cent of drivers were observed wearing seatbelts. Annual ICBC seatbelt surveys have been underway since 2002, but this was the first year Masset took part. Seatbelt usage was also observed in the Village of Queen Charlotte where 91-percent of drivers used their seatbelts. Sergeant Jim Vardy of the Masset RCMP says his officers have been giving warnings to people not wearing seatbelts, but will have to start giving tickets out. As of last May, the fine for not wearing a seat belt has risen to $167. Masset’s low seat belt usage rate dropped even lower when age was taken into account. Only 61 per cent of those under 25 in Masset were observed using seatbelts. Police in Queen Charlotte will also step up seatbelt enforcement, especially during October, as part of an ICBC sponsored campaign. Constable Scott Watson of the Queen Charlotte RCMP pointed out in a news release that a recent study in Japan found that drivers who are buckled have five times the risk of dying in a crash if their rear passengers are not bucked in. He says that although seatbelt use has been mandatory in our province for nearly 30 years, many motorists still don’t wear their seatbelts for short trips. Others believe that people in vehicles with airbags don’t need to wear seatbelts. “Seatbelts are the single most important occupant protection available in vehicles for adults, and seatbelts are designed to work with modern airbag systems,” he writes. Between 2001 and 2005 approximately 2,440 people were injured and 135 people were killed in BC when seatbelts were not worn properly. In Masset, two fatalities occurred, one in 2005 and one in 2006. Neither person was wearing a seatbelt. “We hope that people will decide to wear it,” said Sergeant Vardy. The ICBC survey targeted all occupants of passenger cars, trucks, vans and sport utility vehicles. Observations were conducted at intersections with various traffic control devices. A total of 23,672 vehicle occupants were observed for the survey.