Did you know that seat belt use in Canada is ranked among the highest in the world? At 95.3 per cent (according to a Transport Canada survey), it's likely not surprising seat belt usage is so high, seeing as it is the law in Canada for drivers and passengers to wear them at all times (there are a few exceptions, but for the most part seat belt usage is required.)

Depending on which province you reside in, if you are caught not wearing your seat belt, not only could you get a ticket which may affect your car insurance premium, but you could also get a mark on your driver's licence as well.

What provinces had the best seat belt usage?

Seat belts in Canada: Usage by province

While the overall seat belt use rating for Canada is 95.3 per cent, provinces above the national average were:

  1. British Columbia at 96.9%
  2. Saskatchewan at 96.8%
  3. Quebec at 96.0%
  4. Ontario at 96.0%

The provinces falling short of the national average include:

  1. New Brunswick at 94.8%
  2. Manitoba at 93.8%
  3. Newfoundland and Labrador at 93.1%
  4. Alberta at 92.0%
  5. Nova Scotia at 90.1%
  6. Prince Edward Island at 89.7%
  7. Northwest Territories at 84.9%
  8. Yukon at 78.1%

Note: Nunavut was not included in the survey.

Who doesn't buckle up?

The following interesting observations are noted in the Transport Canada survey:

  • By type of vehicle: Passengers and drivers of pick-up trucks are less likely to use their seat belt, than those in passenger cars, minivans and SUVs; the rate of seat belt use by occupants in pick-ups is only 92.0% compared to the national average of 95.3%.

  • By where you sit: Back seat passengers also don't feel the need to buckle up as often. The rate of seat belt use was much lower among back seat passengers at 89.2%, compared to front seat passengers at 95.5%.

  • By gender: Interestingly, Transport Canada's numbers showed a higher percentage of female drivers wear their seatbelt at 96.0%, over males at 94.3%--a fact which remains consistent across all vehicle types, and is generally true across Canada, regardless of where they reside.

  • By age: Another interesting fact is that regardless of sex, seat belt use generally increases as drivers age. Perhaps we learn as we get older that seatbelts really do exist for a reason; they keep us safe.

  • By where you live: Drivers in rural areas had a much lower seat belt use rate at 92.0% versus 95.8% in urban areas. Maybe due to the fact that rural drivers are exposed to less traffic, they feel safer on the roads without being buckled up, whereas urban drivers see more traffic, congestion, and road rage and thus feel pressed to buckle up.

So how does seat belt use in Canada affect your car insurance premiums?

Over 95 per cent of Canadians wear their seat belt regularly. However, based on Canada's current population, the remaining 4.7 per cent of these drivers and passengers could easily represent over 1 million people.

What would happen to your car insurance rates if you got a ticket for not wearing your seatbelt? Using the Kanetix.ca car insurance quote comparison service, quotes were obtained for a 35-year-old in Ontario with a clean driving record to show just what might happen to your car insurance rates if you get 1 or even 2 tickets for not wearing a seat belt.

  • Without any tickets, 12 competitively priced quotes from 12 different insurers were easily obtained.

  • With one ticket slightly higher rates were noted; the best quote available was 7 per cent higher than the best quote without any tickets.

  • The same driver with two seat belt tickets received even higher quoted rates; moving from 0 to 2 tickets and the best quote goes up 24 per cent.%
If you're a driver who doesn't wear your seatbelt regularly, see what getting a few tickets for not wearing your seat belt will do to your auto insurance premium by comparing car insurance premiums today.

Seat belts save lives, and wearing one is also the law. Stay safe, and avoid getting tickets by buckling up to keep your car insurance premiums low.

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*Transport Canada's Rural and Urban Surveys of Seat Belt use in Canada 2009-2010.

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