March traffic safety spotlight highlights seatbelt and car seat use
March 11, 2014
It was a beautiful summer day in Regina when a driver ran a red light and smashed into Andi Kriekle's car. The impact of the crash caused the vehicle to roll onto its roof and slide upside down along the sidewalk. Thanks to their restraints, Kriekle and her three-month old son Kai were safe.
“I don't like to think about what could have happened if my son wasn't in his car seat,” said Kriekle. “No parent wants to imagine that. It was such a traumatic experience.”
Thankfully, Kai was buckled safely and was not hurt as a result of the crash. Kriekle was also wearing her seatbelt and suffered only minor injuries. Their vehicle did not fare as well; it was a total loss.
“I crawled out of the broken window to get to my son, screaming the entire time. He was hanging upside down in his car seat, totally calm,” said Kriekle. “It could have been so much worse.”
She's right. In 2012, improper or non-seatbelt use contributed to 48 deaths and 292 injuries in the province. Two of the deaths and 92 of the injuries involved children under the age of seven. Fourteen of the children injured were either not restrained at all or were improperly restrained, and 28 of the children were belted by a seatbelt that may have been inappropriate for the child.
To help raise awareness of the importance of buckling up, seatbelt and car seat use is the traffic safety spotlight for the entire month of March. Police across the province will be paying particular attention to people not wearing a seatbelt, wearing one improperly or not having their children properly restrained in the vehicle.
Wearing a seatbelt and having babies and toddlers restrained in the appropriate infant or car seat is the law in Saskatchewan. This summer, a new law will take effect making booster seats mandatory as well, for children under the age of seven and less than 4’9” in height and under 80 lbs in weight.
Failing to wear a seatbelt or not having a child properly restrained results in a $175 ticket and three demerit points under SGI's Safe Driver Recognition program. Once the new booster seat law takes effect, it will also result in a $175 fine for non-compliance. Depending where you sit on the safety rating scale, you may also have to pay a financial penalty or lose insurance discounts.
“Car seats are so important, and I'm a real advocate for using them, especially after what happened to us,” said Kriekle. “Before the crash, we had Kai's seat checked by SGI to make sure we installed it right and I'm so glad we did.”
As Kriekle discovered firsthand, the proper installation and use of the correct car seat for a child's size and weight goes a long way in ensuring a child's safety. SGI sponsors child restraint clinics throughout the province from May through September each year. Trained car seat technicians are also available by appointment at any time of year.
February's traffic safety spotlight focused on distracted driving. Law enforcement issued a total of 316 tickets to distracted drivers during the month, including:
- 240 tickets for cellphone use while driving
- 65 tickets for driving without due care and attention
- 11 other distracted driving offences
Follow @SGItweets and #TrafficSpotlightTip on Twitter for tips on seatbelts and car seats throughout the month of March.
Saskatchewan Government Insurance (SGI) is the province's self-sustaining auto insurance fund. SGI operates 21 claims centres and five salvage centres across Saskatchewan with a head office in Regina. SGI also works with a network of over 400 motor licence issuers across the province. Customers can now do some transactions online. Look for the MySGI link under Online Services on your motor licence issuer's website or SGI's website.