Ontario’s Seatbelt Law is 35 Years Old – January 1, 2011

Update: see previous post – December 1, 2010 – Huge Fine Increases begin Today, November 2, 2010 – Stop Using Credit Scores Against Those Seeking Homeowner Insurance, October 23, 2010 Uninsured Vehicles Project (Ontario) November, 2010, August 22, 2010 Auto Insurance Rules Change September 1, 2010 (Ontario), November 13, 2009 Home Insurance Skyrockets in Ontario, November 5, 2009 Liberals Take Care of Ontario’s Auto Insurance Companies, October 5, 2009 Ontario Liberals Support Auto Insurance Profits, July 19, 2009 Insurance Rates Skyrocket in Ontario, June 11, 2009 Insurance Companies exercise discrimination due to “perceived genetic risks”, May 18, 2009 Ontario Auto Insurance – Reducing Accident Benefits from 100 to 25 Thousand Dollars.

Seatbelts Saving Lives In Ontario For 35 Years

This is what the Ontario government has to say about the mandatory seatbelt’s 35th birthday in Ontario.  The McGuinty government just raised the minimum fine for a seatbelt violation in Ontario to $240.00, effective December 1, 2010 as a result of Bill 126 the “Ontario Road Safety Act”.

Ontario’s seatbelt law is celebrating its 35th birthday on January 1, 2011

Today, 92.8 per cent of all Ontarians buckle up – that’s up from just 17.2 per cent who wore seatbelts before the mandatory law took effect.

Ontario was the first province to require all drivers and passengers to wear a seatbelt. The McGuinty government has since expanded the law to include:

  • Increased fines for seatbelt, child seat, and booster seat violations
  • A requirement that every vehicle occupant be buckled up – one person, one seatbelt
  • The mandatory use of appropriate booster and child car seats at all times, whether children are driving with a parent, grand parent or other caregiver.

Since Ontario’s seatbelt law first came into effect in 1976, the number of people killed and injured in motor vehicle collisions has steadily dropped and it is estimated that seatbelt use has saved over 8,000 lives.

  • A driver who is not wearing a seatbelt is more than 40 times more likely to be killed in a crash than one who is properly buckled.
  • The fine for seatbelt, child seat, and booster seat violations is $240 and two demerit points.

One person, One Seat Belt

If you are not Wearing the Proper Seatbelt Assembly (Normally the Shoulder Harness (or Strap) and the Waist Belt) you will receive a Ticket for Violating Section 106 of the Highway Traffic Act. The Minimum Fine as of December 1, 2010 is $240.00 in Accordance with Bill 126 (Ontario Road Safety Act).

Every person travelling in a motor vehicle must wear a seat belt or use a child safety seat. The penalty for seat belt infractions is a fine between $200.00 and $1000.00. Convicted offenders will receive two (2) demerit points.

Drivers are responsible for ensuring that passengers under 16 years of age are using the seat belt or an appropriate child car seat proper

Police officers may request that passengers who appear to be at least 16 years of age provide their name, address and date of birth. These passengers may face a fine for not using or wearing a seat belt properly.

There are limited exemptions from wearing seat belts.

Proper Use of Seat Belts

  • A properly worn seat belt greatly increases your chances of surviving a motor vehicle collision.
  • No doubling up — only one person to a seat belt.
  • A typical seat belt assembly consists of a lap and shoulder belt. The shoulder belt should be worn closely against the body and over the shoulder and across the chest, never under the arm. The lap belt should be firm against the body and low across the hips.
  • Air bags do not take the place of a seat belt. When air bags activate during a motor vehicle collision, they reduce the forward movement of the upper torso and minimize impact. They do not prevent drivers and passengers from being thrown from the car.
  • When a seat belt is worn correctly, it will apply most of the collision or stopping forces across the chest and pelvis, which are better able to withstand collision forces. A seat belt should not be worn twisted, as the full width of the belt is required to spread motor vehicle collision forces across the body.

    Wearing a seat belt loosely or placing the shoulder belt under the arm or behind your back instead of across the chest, could, in the case of a collision or sudden stop, result in an injury-producing impact with the vehicle interior, or ejection from the vehicle. Wearing a lap belt across the stomach, instead of low across the hips, allows collision forces to be applied to the soft tissue of the body, increasing the chance of injury.

    Pregnant women must wear seat belts — wearing the lap and shoulder belt and sitting as upright as possible. The lap belt should be worn low so it pulls downward on the pelvic bones and not directly against the abdomen.

    The Minimum Fine for Seatbelt Violations as of December 1, 2010 pursuant to Bill 126 (Ontario Road Safety Act) is $240.00 - see Section 106 of the Highway Traffic Act.

    SeatBelts and the Law

    • All Ontario motor vehicle drivers and passengers must wear a seat belt in a properly adjusted and securely fastened manner.
    • A driver can be charged and face a minimum fine of $200.00 and two demerit points for seat belt infractions. Demerit points remain on a driving record for two years from the date of the offence.
    • All motor vehicle drivers are responsible for ensuring that all children under 16 years of age are properly secured in a seat belt or an appropriate child car seat or booster seat.

    On a $200 seatbelt fine, you would have to add the victim fine surcharge (vfs) and the court cost: Example $200 fine + $35.00 vfs + $5.00 court cost = $240.00 Total Payable

    Using a seat belt is the single most effective way to reduce the chance of injury or death in a motor vehicle collision. Over 92 percent of Ontarians wear their seat belt regularly. However, those 8 percent who don’t represent over 600,000 people. It’s easy to see the difference wearing a seat belt makes — for every one percent increase in seat belt use five lives are saved.

    At all times, limit the number of occupants in your vehicle to the number of seat belts. Unbelted occupants can become projectiles during a collision and can seriously injure themselves, other passengers or the driver.

    You must wear a seat belt whenever you travel in a motor vehicle, including a taxi. It is the taxi driver’s responsibility to ensure that the seat belt is available and in good working order. Taxi drivers are responsible for ensuring that passengers under the age of 16 are wearing seat belts. The law does not require the taxi driver to provide a child car seat. When travelling in a taxi with a child, you may provide your own child car seat or booster seat.

    For more information on Ontario’s seat belt laws, see section 106 and regulation 613 of the Highway Traffic Act. As a result of Bill 126 (Ontario Road Safety Act), which came into effect on December 1, 2010, the minimum fine for a seatbelt is $200.00.  The fine for not complying with the Act or regulations respecting seat belts under section 106 is increased, on December 1, 2010 from $60 to $500 (the general penalty under section 214 of the Act) to $200 to $1,000.

    If you have a Child Under 16 Years of Age in Your Vehicle, You Must Ensure that they are Fastened Safely and Securely within Your Vehicle, Preferably in the Back Seat.

    Children and Seat Belts

    • The motor vehicle driver is responsible for ensuring that all children under 16 years of age are properly secured in a motor vehicle.
    • Babies, toddlers, pre-schoolers and primary-school aged children must travel in the appropriate child car seats or booster seats.
    • Children under 13 years of age are safest in the back seat of a motor vehicle, away from any potential point of impact.
    • To effectively use a seat belt, a child must be able to sit with legs bent comfortably over the vehicle seat and with his or her back fully against the back of the vehicle seat. The lap belt must cross over the hips (not the stomach) and the shoulder belt must cross between the shoulder and the neck.

    Motor vehicle drivers who fail to ensure that children in their vehicle are properly secured in a seat belt or child car seat could be charged and face a minimum fine of $200 (to a maximum of $1000) and two demerit points and risk injury to the child.

    Passengers who are 16 years of age and older are responsible for buckling themselves up. If stopped by a police officer, passengers aged 16 and older must provide their name, address and date of birth to the officer. They can face a fine of $90 for not using or wearing their seat belt properly.

    Child passengers who sit in the back seat, particularly in the middle of the back seat, are less likely to be injured during a motor vehicle collision. An exception is if the back seat is the auxiliary seat of a light-duty truck, then the child should sit in the front, but only if there is not an active airbag.

    Children who have outgrown their child car seat have not developed the physical characteristics and size for adult seat belts to be fully effective. They must use a booster seat.

    Booster seats are required for children under the age of eight, weighing 18 kg or more but less than 36 kg (40-80 lbs) and who stand less than 145 cm (4 feet 9 inches) tall.

    A child can start using a seatbelt alone once any one of the following criteria is met:

    • Child turns eight years old
    • Child weighs 36 kg (80 lb.)
    • Child is 145 cm (4 feet 9 inches) tall

    Infants under 9 kg (20 lb.) must be secured in a rear-facing infant car seat. Toddlers 9-18 kg (20 – 40 lb.) who are about a year old and can also pull themselves unassisted to a standing position should travel in a forward-facing child car seat secured by both a seat belt (or LATCH/UAS system) and a tether strap, attached to an anchor bolted into the vehicle’s frame.

    Your local public health unit will be able to provide you with information on child passenger safety as well as inform you about upcoming child car seat inspection clinics. Public health units have trained personnel who can provide workshops or information about child car seats, or hold child car seat inspection clinics.

    What are the recent changes to Ontario’s child car seat rules?

    Effective July 1, 2009, amendments to Regulation 613 (Seat Belt Assemblies) will:

    • Permit the use of alternative types of restraints (e.g., car beds) for children with special needs (e.g., underweight, premature infants);
    • Permit the use of integrated or built-in child car seats or booster seats;
    • Remove the exemption for rented/leased vehicles;
    • Remove exemptions for infants and toddlers traveling in a vehicle registered in another jurisdiciton; and
    • Reduce the booster seat exemption period from 60 to 30 days for vehicles registered in another jurisdiction, with complete removal in five years (expires on July 1, 2014).

    Are you saying that parents must use these special restraints if their child has a special need?

    No.  The change is permissive, not mandatory.  What it does is provide parents and caregivers with an option to either use a conventional style child car seat or a federally-approved child car restraint system that is just right for their child and his/her special need.

    What are some of the medical conditions that could be covered?

    Medical conditions include scoliosis (lateral curvature of the spine), orthopaedic conditions (e.g., casts), autism, cerebral palsy, positional apnea (cessation of breathing based on position) and some gastrointestinal disorders.

    What are some kinds of alternative restraints that can now be used?

    Photo of Car Bed

    Car Beds

    • Can be used by premature infants – less than 37 weeks gestation or who weigh less than 2500 g (about 5.5 lbs.).
    • Available through Equipment Loan Programs (e.g., Macklems), which are mandated by Transport Canada.
    • Parents cannot purchase these car beds; available through health-care facilities only.
    • Cost about $100.
    Photo of Snug Seat Hippo

    Snug Seat Hippo

    • For use by children with casts.
    • Costs about $640

    E-Z-On Vest

    Photo of E-Z-On Vest
    • Generally used by children with developmental disabilities (e.g., autism)
    • Child must be at least 2 years of age and weigh 20-168 lbs.
    • Costs range from $217-$250.
    Photo of Modified E-Z-On Vest

    Modified E-Z-On Vest

    For children:

    • who must travel lying down (e.g., casts).
    • who are between the ages of 2 and 12 and weigh between 9 kg and 45 kg (20-100 lbs.) .
    • Costs range from $250-$290.

    Where can someone get these restraints?

    Several distributors across Canada make the products available to parents and caregivers, transportation organizations, health care facilities, etc. These companies include:

    • Cosco Dream Ride Infant Car Seat/Bed (supply restraints for premature/low-birth weight infants)
    • Britax Child Safety, Inc.
    • Snug Seat (supplies Snug Seat Hippo)
    • Dorel Distribution Canada
    • E-Z-On Products Inc.
    • Perry Rand Limited Transportation Group (supplies E-Z-On Vest)
    • The Motion Group and SOS Rehabilitation are among the distributors of alternative restrain systems.

    What are the cost implications for parents/caregivers?

    In Canada, alternative restraints range in price from $17 to $1,300.

    Do I need anything special (i.e., doctor’s note) to purchase one of these restraints?

    There are two types of restraints, “production” and “custom restraints”.  Production restraints are off-the-shelf products, whereas custom restraints are made especially for one child.  Distributors of custom restraints require a note from a medical practitioner, health care provider, physiotherapist or occupational therapist.

    Please check with the distributor.

    Do I need to carry a doctor’s note when transporting my child using an alternative type of restraint?

    No, you do not need to carry a doctor’s note with you when transporting your child with special needs. Each child restraint will bear a National Safety Mark that indicates it meets all federal safety standards.

    Note: When purchasing an E-Z-On Vest (regular or modified), you will receive a letter from the manufacturer.  This letter must be carried at all times to prove that the vest meets federal standards, as the vest will not have a National Safety Mark.

    Where can I go to learn how to properly install one of these new child car seats?

    As is the current practice, it is expected that the child’s occupational/physiotherapist, therapist or other health care provider would be responsible for teaching parents/caregivers how to use these types of restraints.

    Why is the Ontario Government proposing to remove child car seat exemptions for vehicles registered in other jurisdictions?

    All North American jurisdictions have child safety seat laws to protect infants and toddlers.  Exemptions for these children are no longer required.  Removing these exemptions can serve to protect ALL children on Ontario roads, not just those who live here.

    Why is the exemption period on booster seats for visitors to the province being shortened to 30 days and why is it being removed after 5 years?

    Most, but not all, North American jurisdictions have booster seat laws. Many provinces and states that do not currently have a booster seat law are moving in this direction. Those that do have booster seat laws may have requirements that are not as stringent as Ontario’s. That’s why some exemptions are still required.  The 5-year transition period to removing this exemption in its entirety should provide sufficient time to communicate changes to visitors to this province.

    This exemption ends on July 1, 2014.

    Why are child car seat exemptions for rented or leased vehicles being removed?

    Removing the exemptions for rented or leased vehicles will ensure that any child travelling in these vehicles is properly secured and travelling in the safest way possible.  Rental car companies may provide child car seats for their customers.  You should check with the company first for availability.

    I’m visiting Ontario for three weeks and will be renting a car during my stay. What are the rules for transporting my children?

    You must follow Ontario’s child car seat rules if you are transporting an infant or a toddler, regardless of where your vehicle is registered.  If you are travelling in a vehicle registered in another jurisdiction, you are exempt from the booster seat requirement for the first 30 days that you are in the province.  After that, you must use the appropriate booster seat.

    You may use a child car seat or booster seat from your home jurisdiction if travelling in a vehicle registered in another jurisdiction.  If driving an Ontario-plated vehicle, you must use a seat that fully complies with Ontario’s child car seat laws.

    I’m visiting Ontario for three months and will be renting a car during my stay. What will be the new rules for transporting my children?

    Exemptions from the child car seat requirements are no longer available for vehicles rented in Ontario.  All children who should be in a child car seat or booster based on age, height and/or weight must be properly secured in the appropriate child restraint system.

    If the vehicle is rented outside of Ontario, all infants (children under nine kg) and toddlers (children who weigh nine kg or more but less than 18 kg) must be in a child car seat.

    If you are travelling with a child who should be in a booster seat, and the vehicle you are driving is registered in another jurisdiction, then you are exempt from using that booster seat for the first 30 days of your visit.  After that period, your child must be in a booster seat. This exemption will be completely removed on July 1, 2014.

    What are the seat belt and child car seat requirements when I am a passenger in a taxi?

    There are no seat belt exemptions for passengers in taxis—only for the driver when carrying passengers for hire. A passenger must use his/her seat belt.

    Taxi drivers are exempt from the child car seat and booster seat requirements when transporting a passenger for hire.  However, taxicab drivers transporting children for personal reasons or those that operate a taxi while under contract with a school board or other authority for the transportation of children are required to comply with the child car seat and booster seat requirements.

    If you are 16 years of age or older, you can be charged for not wearing a seat belt and face a fine of $110 if convicted.  If you are under the age of 16, the taxi driver is responsible for ensuring you use the seat belt properly.  Taxi drivers who fail to ensure children are using a seat belt properly can be charged, and if convicted, face a fine of $110 and two demerit points on their driver record.

    Aren’t integrated seats already allowed in Ontario?

    Yes, integrated seats that meet the requirements under the Motor Vehicle Safety Regulations (MVSR) have always been allowed in Ontario. This change removes any doubt around the use of integrated seats by making it clear they are permitted for use in Ontario.

    Does this new law apply to motor coaches or school buses?

    Buses for hire, including school buses, will continue to be exempt from the child car seat rules.

    Seat Belt Exemptions

    Seatbelt exemptions continue to include:

    • Driving a motor vehicle in reverse
    • People with medical certificates saying that they are unable to wear a seatbelt
    • People engaged in work that requires them to exit from and re-enter the vehicle at frequent intervals, as long as they are traveling less than 40 km/h
    • Police or peace officers while transporting a person in custody
    • Person in police custody while being transported
    • Employees and agents of Canada Post engaged in rural mail delivery
    • Ambulance attendants and any other persons being transported in the patient’s compartment of an ambulance
    • Firefighters in the rear of a fire department vehicle while engaged in work that makes it impractical to wear a seatbelt
    • Taxi cab drivers while transporting a passenger for hire. When travelling alone in the vehicle, taxi cab drivers must wear a seatbelt.

    For vehicles that were not manufactured with seatbelts, the following exemptions apply:

    • Buses (including school buses)
    • Other large commercial vehicles (over 4,536 kg), which do not require seatbelts to be installed in rear seating positions at the time of manufacture
    • Historic vehicles that were not manufactured with seatbelts
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    14 comments

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    3. What is the law regarding transporting a child/infant in a historical vehicle that was not manufactured with seat belts?

      Thanks.
      Jonathon

    4. Hi Murray:
      I don’t know when the Ontario government made the wearing of the shoulder harness mandatory.
      It may just be that the 3-point belt system became a standard feature in vehicles and the
      shoulder harness or sash was part of that – most of these safety features were widely
      introduced in the 70’s.

      I’m not sure though the year that authorities expected motorists to be wearing the
      shoulder harness as part of the seat-belt assembly.

      I’ll throw this question out to everyone else reading this comment/reply in hopes
      that they can shed some light on this interesting question.

      Thanks,

    5. Hi Derek:
      Effective July 1, 2009, amendments to Regulation 613 (Seat Belt Assemblies) went into effect, which now means:

      * Permit the use of alternative types of restraints (e.g., car beds) for children with special needs (e.g., underweight, premature infants);
      * Permit the use of integrated or built-in child car seats or booster seats;
      * Remove the exemption for rented/leased vehicles;
      * Remove exemptions for infants and toddlers traveling in a vehicle registered in another jurisdiciton; and
      * Reduce the booster seat exemption period from 60 to 30 days for vehicles registered in another jurisdiction, with complete removal in five years (expires on July 1, 2014).

      The Ontario Government is very serious about seatbelt and child safety seats and booster seats. The
      government does not want motorists to modify torso restraints, seat belt assemblies in the centre front
      seat seating position or seat belt assemblies in the rear seat seating positions. This means that
      the government does not want these restraints or seat belt assemblies removed or rendered partly
      or wholly inoperative or modified so as to reduce their effectiveness.

      If you want to pursue the retrofit, I would first contact the Ministry of Transportation and ask about the
      guidelines surrounding this type of replacement. I’m sure it would be allowed if it was just as safe, or
      safer than the bucket seatbelts you presently have in your Jeep, and the new seatbelt assemblies were
      government approved for safety and they were installed by a certified mechanic in Ontario; the
      Ministry could be convinced to allow such a retrofit.

      Remember to always http://fightyourtickets.ca

    6. i have bucket seats in my jeep, i want to use 4 point harnesses instead of the cross body stock seatbelt. can this be done? if not why.

    7. Hi Margaret:
      Your certainly entitled to your opinion on these matters, but I would say that your views are pretty extreme. Do you really think that putting motorists in jail, because they couldn’t pay a fine in 90 days will help with compliance or act as a deterrant to motorists? How much would it cost taxpayers to house someone in jail for 90 days, versus the cost of a fine under the Highway Traffic Act; is this a practical approach to dealing with those who can’t or don’t pay their fines?

      Remember to always http://fightyourtickets.ca

    8. I think there should be a $1000 fine for not wearing a seatbelt. Also, the choice of paying the fine or 90 days in jail. It’s the law and we have to obey what our government tells us to do. Also, mandatory emission testing country-wide.

    9. Hi James:

      The McGuinty government passed the Ontario Road Safety Act and increased the fines for seatbelt violation under section 106 of the Highway Traffic Act.

      The Ontario Road Safety Act came into effect on December 1, 2010 and increased seatbelt fines to a minimum of $240.00. The number of demerit points that are placed on your driving record remain the same at two (2) demerit points.

      Remember to always http://fightyourtickets.ca

    10. Wow, cars are dangerous. Maybe seatbelts should be against the law, and replaced with four-point harnesses like in racing cars, which are proven to be more effective. Decreasing the speed limit to 10 may also help. Since school buses don’t have seatbelts, perhaps children should be banned. Perhaps risk itself could be made illegal.

      As a public safety device, seatbelts are highly effective. As a public education campaign, seatbelt laws are ineffective. As enforcement of a law, it is highly effective, except for the 600,000 people disobeying it. 35 years later, it may be time to reconsider the law if it has succeeded in educating the public or if substantial increases in obedience are not likely.

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