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Province putting end to people in pickup beds

Bill requires seatbelts for all passengers

If it's good enough for dogs, well, it should be good for people, too.

The Selinger government introduced a bill Thursday that would extend to people a transportation-safety rule that's been required for pets for 15 years.

"Dogs and people should at least be on an equal footing," Infrastructure and Transportation Minister Steve Ashton said. "I think it's common sense. There are far fewer people in the back of pickup trucks than you would have seen in the past, but it still does happen and this is a way of making a clear statement that it is not safe."

Since 1998, Manitoba's Animal Care Act has prohibited the transportation of a companion animal in the open back of a pickup truck "in a manner or in circumstances where the animal is exposed to a high risk of injury" except with a proper restraining device or in a closed cage or kennel.

Ashton said the bill would also restrict the number of passengers in a vehicle to the number of seatbelts.

"Right now, if you have six passengers in a car and only five seatbelts, it's not illegal," he said, adding the proposed changes reflect the fact that most vehicles sold now have one seatbelt per seat -- something that was not as common when the mandatory seatbelt law came into effect in 1984.

"If there are more passengers than seatbelts, that's an offence," Ashton added.

The proposed bill would also require that all wheelchairs are adequately secured or tied down in the vehicle while in transport and that all passengers in wheelchairs are using a seatbelt.

"We've seen the value of seatbelts," said Ashton, who said he survived a rollover crash because he was wearing a seatbelt. "I wouldn't be here if I hadn't been wearing a seatbelt many years ago."

The fine for failing to wear a seatbelt is $299.65, an offence that carries with it two demerit points.

In a study of seatbelt use in 2010, Transport Canada found compliance in Manitoba was 93.8 per cent. The national average was 95.3 per cent.

"I don't think most Manitobans question the use of seatbelts now," Ashton said. "They work. Virtually, when all of us get in the car, it's the first thing you think of."

bruce.owen@freepress.mb.ca

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition May 10, 2013 A15

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