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Information Bulletin - Operation Impact

October 4, 2007

Operation Impactrevs up in drive to save lives

Police initiative reinforces seat belts are still vehicles’ most important safety feature

Edmonton… Despite new technology breakthroughs and the evolution of vehicle safety systems, seat belts remain one of the most important safety features in vehicles. October 5-8 marks Operation Impact, a national campaign that is the result of police agencies across the country working together to make Canada's roads the safest in the world. The police initiative focuses on behaviours that put drivers, passengers and other road users most at risk: inconsistent seat belt use, aggressive driving and impaired driving.

Using a seat belt is the single most effective way to reduce the chance of injury or death in a collision as it keeps drivers and passengers from being ejected from the vehicle.

The basic idea of a seatbelt is simple. Any time a vehicle comes to a sudden stop, the driver and passenger within it also come to an abrupt stop. A seatbelt's job is to minimize harm to vehicle occupants by spreading the stopping force across the rib cage and the pelvis, which are relatively sturdy parts of the body. Vehicle seat belts have the ability to extend and retract, but in a collision the belt will tighten up and hold occupants safely in place.

Use seat belts and child restraints no matter how short the trip. In Alberta, every person travelling in a vehicle must wear a seat belt or use a child safety seat. The fine for seat belt infractions is $115. Drivers are responsible for ensuring passengers younger than the age of 16 are properly buckled up. Young children must travel in the appropriate child car seats or booster seats. The driver is responsible for paying the fine if convicted of not having a child younger than 16 years of agecorrectly secured by the seat belt or a child safety seat.

Proper use of seat belts and child restraints are essential in maintaining safety.

  • A typical seat belt 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 or behind the back. The lap belt should be firm against the body and low across the hips.
  • A seat belt should not be worn twisted, as the full width of the belt is required to spread collision forces across the body.
  • While a child can start using a seat belt once he or she is six years old or weighs more than 18 kilograms, it is recommended children be in an approved booster seat until they turn nine or weigh 37 kilograms.
  • Air bags do not take the place of a seat belt. They do not prevent drivers and passengers from being thrown from the vehicle. Airbags are designed to always be used in conjunction with seatbelts.

Pregnant women must wear seat belts

Pregnant women must wear the lap and shoulder belt properly by 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.

Improving traffic safety is one of the actions under Premier Ed Stelmach's plan to provide Albertans with safe and secure communities. Other priorities for the government are to govern with integrity and transparency, improve Albertans’ quality of life, manage growth pressures, and build a stronger Alberta.

For more information about traffic safety, contact the Office of Traffic Safety at 780-422-8839 or visit http://www.saferoads.com/.

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Media enquiries may be directed to:

Jeanette Espie
Office of Traffic Safety
Alberta Transportation

Eileen McDonald, Communications
Alberta Transportation
780-422-0842  780-913-4609 (cell)

To call toll free within Alberta dial 310-0000.