Seat Belt Safety

Stay Safe and Secure for everyone's sake

Nine out of ten Ontarians wear a seat belt. Everyone in a motor vehicle has to wear one. It's the law. Not wearing one could cost you $110 and two demerit points.

Facts about seat belts
  • Wearing your seat belt properly will dramatically increase your chance of surviving a motor vehicle collision.
  • For every one per cent increase in seat belt usage, five lives in Canada are saved (Transport Canada).
  • Since seat belts were made mandatory, the number of people killed and injured in collisions in Ontario has steadily dropped.
Kids and Car Seats
  • Babies, toddlers, pre-school and primary-school aged children must travel in the appropriate child car seats or booster seats.
  • Children under 13 years of age are safest in the back seat of a motor vehicle, away from any potential point of impact.
  • To effectively use a seat belt, a child must be able to sit with legs bent comfortably over the vehicle seat and with his or her back fully against the back of the vehicle seat. The lap belt must cross over the hips (not the stomach) and the shoulder belt must cross between the shoulder and the neck.
  • Child passengers who sit in the back seat, particularly in the middle of the back seat, are less likely to be injured during a motor vehicle collision. An exception is if the back seat is the auxiliary seat of a light-duty truck, then the child should sit in the front, but only if there is not an active airbag.
  • Children who have outgrown their child car seat have not developed the physical characteristics and size for adult seat belts to be fully effective. They must use a booster seat.
  • Booster seats are required for children under the age of eight, weighing 18 kg or more but less than 36 kg (40-80 lbs) and who stand less than 145 cm (4 feet 9 inches) tall.
  • A child can start using a seatbelt alone once any one of the following criteria is met:
    • Child turns eight years old
    • Child weighs 36 kg (80 lb.)
    • Child is 145 cm (4 feet 9 inches) tall
    • Infants under 9 kg (20 lb.) must be secured in a rear-facing infant car seat. Toddlers 9-18 kg (20 - 40 lb.) who are about a year old and can also pull themselves unassisted to a standing position should travel in a forward-facing child car seat secured by both a seat belt (or LATCH/UAS system) and a tether strap, attached to an anchor bolted into the vehicle's frame.
Tips for installing car seats:
  • There should be no more than 2.5 cm of movement of the seat from side to side or forward. Each time you place your child in the car safety seat, give it a tug to make sure it is still secure.
  • The tether strap (located on the rear of the safety seat) for a forward-facing child car safety seat must be used. Attach the strap to the tether anchorage on the vehicle as specified by the car manufacturer.
  • Sometimes locking clips may be required to safely secure a child car safety seat in a vehicle. Consult your owner's manual to see if you need one. If so, install the clip on the seat belt within 13 mm of the latch plate.
  • Harness straps must be positioned correctly by ensuring they pass through the correct slots. For rear-facing seats harness straps should sit at or below the child's shoulders. For forward-facing seats harness straps should sit at or above the child's shoulders.
  • Ensure the harness system is snug enough on the chest to allow only one finger width between the strap and collarbone.
  • Ensure the harness straps lie flat and they do not twist or fold. The chest clips on the harness should lie flat against the chest and be positioned at the armpit level.
  • Always install child car safety seats away from active air bags. The best place is in the back seat, either the second or third row in a mini-van.
  • Make sure you have the proper angle for your child car safety seat. For a rear-facing seat, if necessary, use a tightly rolled towel or a pool noodle under the base of the seat to adjust the angle to 45 degrees. A forward-facing seat should be in the upright position.
  • A lap and shoulder belt combination must be used for both the high-back and low-back booster seat. Never use a lap belt alone. Contact your local dealer regarding retrofitting it with a shoulder belt.
  • All child car safety seats manufactured for sale in Canada on and after March 15, 1998 must have a Canadian Motor Vehicle Safety Standard label on the seat.

* Courtesy of ServiceOntario (formerly known as Ontario Ministry of Transportation or MTO)

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