October 10, 2017, Kitchener, Ontario
Posted by: Robert Deutschmann, Personal Injury Lawyer
We often think of wearing a seatbelt to save us from hitting the steering wheel or dashboard in the car in an accident. The primary use of them though is to keep you in the car. A recent accident in the area that involved several people being ejected from their car into oncoming traffic is a good example of what can happen when you are in an accident and not wearing a seatbelt.
Despite all of the safety advances we have made in cars over the last two decades, injuries and fatalities due to occupant ejection in rollover crashes has continued to be a significant problem. Electronic stability control and seatbelt technology advances have made it more difficult for a car to roll over, but if the occupants don’t wear a seatbelt then the chances of being ejected in rollovers and high-speed collisions is very high.
Ejection from the car in the case of a rollover crash or high-speed collision greatly increases the risk of injury and fatality. Seatbelt use has been proven to reduce the risk of partial ejection and it virtually eliminates the risk of full complete ejection.
The safety system of the car begins with the premise that the passenger cabin of the car is highly engineered to secure occupants in place and to contain them like an egg carton holds eggs. There are crumple zones built into the front and back of cars, engines are designed to ‘drop out’ to avoid being pushed into the cabin and crushing occupants, and the seatbelt is meant to hold occupants in the ideal position to allow the crumple zones, air bags and structural features of the frame to keep you in the car and cushion impact.
I have had the opportunity to see how badly injured people can be in a car accident when they are properly wearing their seatbelts. Sadly, I have also seen what happens to people who have been thrown around inside their vehicles, or ejected. The injuries are always far more sever, and often they are catastrophic or fatal.
Please be certain to wear your seatbelt always. It doesn’t matter how short the drive is or where you are driving. It takes a second to put it on but it can save you a lifetime of pain and suffering.
Children should always be secured as well. Child and infant car seats are not optional. They aren’t something that can be negotiated with the child. They are designed to stay in the car in the event of an accident and to provide the extra protection that children's small frames need during impact. Children and infants should always be in the right car seat as the car seats are designed to protect their weaker bones and muscles in an accident. Booster seats raise children so that adult seatbelts are correctly positioned across their bodies, not their necks, infant car seats provide 5 point harnesses that keep the child in the seat at all times, but that also spread the impact of an accident across their bodies so they don't break or crush their ribs.
Never drive with a child who is securely fastened in their car seats, and always ensure your car seat is properly installed. If you have doubts about how to install the seat properly you can attend a clinic offered by police or fire fighters. If you are desperate for advice call the police department on their regular line and ask for information on getting help.
Find more information here http://www.mto.gov.on.ca/english/safety/choose-car-seat.shtml
Choose the right child car seat
Using the right child car seat is the best way to prevent serious injury to children in collisions. This information will help you find the right child car seat for your child's height, weight and developme
What to look for
When you buy a child car seat for use in Canada, look for the National Safety Mark label attached to the seat. This label indicates that the seat complies with Canadian regulations and standards and is legal for use in Canada.
Every child car seat and booster seat sold in Canada has an expiry or useful life date on it and should not be used past that date.
Child car seats for infants
Newborn babies and infants need special protection while in a vehicle. In a collision, a properly installed rear-facing child car seat can save your baby's life.
Ontario's Highway Traffic Act requires children to use a rear-facing car seat until the child weighs at least 9 kg (20 lb.).
It's best to keep your child in a rear-facing child car seat until they reach the manufacturer's recommended maximum weight and height limits. Some rear-facing car seats are made for children that weigh up to 20 kg (45 lb.)
When a child outgrows the maximum weight or height limits of an infant rear-facing car seat, they may move to a larger convertible infant/child car seat and stay rear-facing until the child is ready to face forward.
Child car seats for toddlers
Ontario’s Highway Traffic Act allows children weighing 9 kg to 18 kg (20 to 40 lb.) to use a forward-facing child car seat or a rear-facing car seat as long as the car seat manufacturer recommends its use.
It's best to keep your child in a forward-facing child car seat until they reach the manufacturer's recommended maximum weight and height limits.
A forward-facing car seat uses a tether strap to prevent the child car seat from moving forward and causing injury in a collision. It is important to use the tether strap exactly as the manufacturer recommends.
Booster seats raise children so adult seat belts protect them better. Booster seats protect children from serious injury 3-½ times better than seat belts alone.
Ontario’s Highway Traffic Act requires children weighing 18 kg to 36 kg (40 to 80 lb.), standing less than 145 cm (4 ft. 9 in.) tall and who are under the age of 8 to use a booster seat or allows the continued use of a forward-facing seat as long as the car seat manufacturer recommends its use. It’s best to keep your child in a booster seat until they reach the manufacturer’s recommended maximum weight and height limits.
Seatbelts are designed for adults and older children. Children may be ready to move from a booster seat to a vehicle's seatbelt once:
- they can sit all the way against the back of the vehicle seat with legs bent comfortably over the edge and maintain this position for the entire trip
- they can have the shoulder belt flat across the shoulder and chest
- the lap belt crosses over the hips, not the stomach
Ontario’s Highway Traffic Act allows a child to use a seatbelt alone when any one of the following occurs:
- Child turns 8 years old, or
- Child weighs 36 kg (80 lb.), or
- Child is 145 cm (4 ft. 9 in.) tall or more
All drivers are responsible for ensuring that passengers under 16 are secured properly.