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OPP reports steady decline in seatbelt-related deaths

Provincial police recorded 46 deaths related to not wearing a seatbelt in 2015. Lars Hagberg/The Canadian Press File

Seatbelts save lives.

As OPP get set to conduct a seatbelt campaign over the Easter long weekend, they’re reporting a steady decline in seatbelt-related deaths.

There were 45 of them on OPP-patrolled roads in 2016, marking the lowest number on record in the last 20 years.

Provincial police recorded 46 deaths related to not wearing a seatbelt in 2015.

That is in stark contrast to the 168 that were reported when record-keeping began in 1997.

The 168 also marks the highest total in the last 20 years.

READ MORE: Selkirk woman warns public about seat belt safety, 10 years after serious brain injury

Since 2008, the number of seatbelt-related deaths on OPP-patrolled roads has been consistently under 90.

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The OPP says it attributes the downward trend, in part, to its Provincial Traffic Safety Program.

Implemented in 2007, the proactive, high-visibility approach to traffic safety enforcement and education focuses on lack of seatbelt use and other high-risk behaviours that account for the majority of OPP-investigated deaths on roads, waterways and trails.

READ MORE: OPP lay more than 2,400 distracted driving charges during March break

“The evidence that supports the effectiveness of seatbelt use remains irrefutable. The odds of surviving or avoiding serious injuries in a collision are stacked against those who are not restrained in their seat. In exchange for the few seconds it takes to buckle up, you can cross this risk off the checklist of things that threaten your life on the road,” said OPP Deputy Commissioner Brad Blair, provincial commander of Traffic Safety & Operational Support.

“It only takes a moment to buckle up and it can save your life, or the life of your loved one. I commend the OPP for undertaking seatbelt campaigns. They are an important reminder that helps keep our roads safe. Please help prevent unnecessary tragedy by making sure everyone in a vehicle with you is safely buckled,” said Marie-France Lalonde, Minister of Community Safety and Correctional Services.

The Easter long weekend seatbelt campaign runs from April 14 to 17.

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