November 22, 2004

Survey says 87% of Canadian motorists use their seatbelts

Ottawa, Ontario – New survey results show that approximately 87% of Canadian motorists use their seatbelts, but that usage is still below the 95% target set by road safety authorities across the country.

The National Surveys of Seatbelt Use in Canada: 2002 – 2003 give results from observational surveys of seatbelt use in rural and urban Canada. They are the first such surveys to measure seatbelt usage rates separately in rural and urban Canada.

The survey shows that 87.4 per cent of front seat occupants of light-duty vehicles (i.e., passenger cars, pickup trucks, minivans and sport utility vehicles) buckle up. The rate is slightly lower in rural areas (85 per cent) and marginally higher in urban areas (87.6 per cent).

The survey also revealed that 87.2 per cent of all occupants of light-duty vehicles in urban Canada wear their seatbelts. Data was not available for all occupants in rural areas.

“Approximately 40 per cent of all people killed in automobile accidents were not wearing their seatbelts,” said Transport Minister Jean-C. Lapierre. “Seatbelts save lives, and Transport Canada strongly encourages the travelling public to buckle up at all times.”

Transport Canada conducted the surveys as part of the National Occupant Restraint Program 2010. The program, in which the department partners with the provinces, territories, police services and other road safety agencies, aims to increase seatbelt use by Canadians. The program’s goal is to achieve a minimum of 95 per cent national seat belt usage and the proper use of child restraints (i.e., child car seats) by 2010. It forms an important component of Road Safety Vision 2010, which is a national plan of action endorsed by key road safety stakeholders to make Canada’s roads the safest in the world by 2010.

The National Seatbelt Survey was redesigned in 2001 to include communities with populations between 5,000 and 49,999. The previous surveys focused only on communities having populations over 50,000. In 2002 – 2003, the surveys were extended to include populations over 1,000. Results from this redesigned survey will provide Transport Canada with a more representative sample of seatbelt use in both urban and rural Canada. Future surveys will provide the department with comparable data that can be used to detect trends and issues in usage.

Transport Canada conducted the survey of rural use in September 2002. The survey targeted front seat occupants of passenger cars, pickup trucks, minivans and sport utility vehicles. It was conducted at intersections with stop signs, which did not provide sufficient vehicle stopping time to observe the back seat occupants.

The department conducted the urban survey in September 2003. It examined all occupants of passenger cars, pickup trucks, minivans and sport utility vehicles. Most intersections had traffic lights, which allowed sufficient vehicle stopping time to observe all occupants.

A total of 105,385 vehicles and 151,566 occupants were observed at 384 sites across Canada.

The surveys are available on Transport Canada’s road safety website at For more information, click here: Road Safety Vision 2010.

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