In recent weeks various law enforcement agencies have been stepping up enforcement of seatbelt use on roads throughout Cumberland County. By holding checkstops at strategic locations across the county, police are sending out a strong message that people who continue to ignore seatbelt laws are not only putting their lives in jeopardy, they are breaking the law.
Now, a review of the province’s seatbelt law may mean those who aren’t required to wear the safety restraint, including taxi drivers, couriers, police and firefighters, may have to click it or run the risk of getting a ticket.
Kim Mundle, a member of the Nova Scotia road safety advisory committee and a specialist in seat belt safety with the IWK Children’s Hospital in Halifax, wants things like medical exemptions to disappear because she believes there is no medical condition severe enough that would make it safer not to wear a seatbelt.
Transportation Minister Bill Estabrooks added his voice to the debate on Thursday when he said he also favours tougher seatbelt laws and an end to medical exemptions. The minister feels everyone is safer wearing a seatbelt.
While it’s unlikely any changes to the existing legislation will take place for at least year, at least the minister is giving notice that he would support a recommendation from the province’s road safety committee. It would also let those not wearing seatbelts to get comfortable now or face the consequences later.
There are those who are going to question the need to end the exemption, but the evidence is pretty convincing - seatbelts save lives.
No doubt, some of those who presently don’t need to wear a seat belt will be the most vocal against changing the legislation but it’s quite evident that a level playing field is required for all motorists.
It’s up to government and police to begin education motorists today so there will be a smoother transition when the change comes. At the same time, if there is hesitation in ending the exemption there should be an explanation since it has been shown that five lives are saved for every one per cent increase in seat belt use. Sounds pretty convincing.