Don’t forget to buckle up.

Considering the common sense factor, as well as the numerous facts and figures currently available, the need to remind people to fasten their seat belts when they get into a vehicle is a little surprising if not completely ridiculous.

Unfortunately, there are still a great number of folks who either forget this basic safety rule or simply choose to ignore it entirely for reasons that make as much sense as opening a menswear shop at a nudist colony. According to statistics provided by SGI, however, an average of 54 unbelted vehicle occupants die on Saskatchewan roads each year. SGI also reports this number could be reduced almost in half if seat belts were to be worn.

This is a fairly significant difference, so the big question is, why are so many people failing to comply with something so simple? That’s why the Meadow Lake RCMP’s ongoing effort to put a stronger focus on seat belt enforcement is so significant.

Since the start of February, local RCMP members have been doing their part to rein in as many negligent drivers and passengers as possible. While exact numbers have yet to be made available, Cpl. Bob Wolfenden, who oversees the detachment’s traffic component, said a number of summary offence tickets have been issued. It will be interesting to see what the final stats indicate. Wolfenden admitted the local effort is part of a provincial campaign to increase seat belt usage.

The problem isn’t restricted to Saskatchewan alone either. A report issued by SGI with regard traffic accident facts states, each year in Canada, about 2,000 people are killed and 165,000 are injured (10,000 seriously injured), while using the road transportation system, with a cost to Canadian society of $37 billion (2.2 per cent of the Canadian GDP) annually.

Of course not all of these injuries or fatalities are linked to a lack of seat belt usage. Don’t forget, there are several other factors to consider when it comes to traffic incidents, most notably impaired and distracted driving.
Hopefully the local RCMP’s efforts prove to be successful. Sure, there’s certain to be some vocal opposition out there  – most likely from the ones who’ve already been fined – who will regard the initiative as nothing more than a provincial money grab.

Certainly there’s money to be made – isn’t there always when it comes to government? But, if having pocketbooks penalized helps make more people think twice about shirking the law and helps to save lives, then it’s money well spent.