Northern Health and ICBC are asking Northern B.C. residents to help reduce the very high rates of motor vehicle deaths in the region by making sure you wear your seatbelt this long weekend and year-round.
“In the North, we have a death rate from vehicle crashes twice as high as the provincial average,” said Dr. David Bowering, Chief Medical Health Officer. “That translates into 60 deaths every year instead of the 30 that we expect to see. Parts of our region are also far below the provincial average in seatbelt use.
“When I worked as an emergency room physician, sorting through an ambulance load of crash victims on a long weekend, one of the things I wanted to see was a bruise on a person’s torso which showed they had been wearing a seatbelt. This would usually mean a few days off work for them, some Tylenol, and a story to tell… much better than the massive head injuries, chest trauma, or absence of vital signs we tended to see in the people without that bruise.”
Wearing a seatbelt means your chance of being injured or killed in a car crash is decreased by 50 per cent.
Seatbelts are proven to reduce injury and death by:
*preventing people from being thrown out of the car and becoming more
*helping people “ride down” a crash so that rapid movement is
absorbed by the car, not the person.
*keeping occupants inside the car from hitting each other and causing
“A common myth about not wearing a seatbelt is that it’s better to be thrown clear of the vehicle, rather than being restrained,” said Doug MacDonald, ICBC Road Safety Coordinator. “But you may not make it through a heavy glass windshield… or if you do, you could be seriously injured from the resulting trauma.”
Seatbelt usage statistics for the North indicate that, on average, 86 per cent of drivers, passengers, and vehicle occupants wear their seatbelts. The B.C. provincial average is 91 per cent.
“Although seatbelt use in the North has increased in recent years, there’s always room for improvement,” said MacDonald, “whether it’s with drivers, passengers or children in car seats.”
Prince George residents, buckling up at 91 per cent, have the highest usage rate in the region. Fort Nelson is the lowest at 37 per cent.
“With summer vacation in full swing, some people may think that it’s only important to put on a seatbelt if they are taking a long road trip,” said Ester Brisch, Injury Prevention Coordinator and Public Health Nurse. “But unfortunately, car crashes often happen within five kilometers of home.
“People may feel they don’t have to wear seat belts if they are just going a few blocks to pick up something, but that’s just not true. Don’t forget to buckle up yourself and your kids for ALL your trips in the car this summer… because no one ever expects to be in a crash!”