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Frequently Asked Questions: Safety

Safety

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Air Bags

Rebuilt Air Bags

What is wrong with the rebuilt air bags?

Laboratory tests of the rebuilt air bags produced by National Sacs Gonflables Inc., determined that these rebuilt air bags were unsafe. When deployed, these rebuilt air bags could cause serious head and upper body injury.

Am I at risk? Which vehicles are likely to have a rebuilt air bag from National?

Any vehicle with an air bag that has been replaced since the beginning of 1998 may contain a rebuilt air bag from National Sacs Gonflables Inc. This could include used vehicles or vehicles that have been involved in a collision since the beginning of 1998.

How can a vehicle owner check their air bag to ensure that it is safe?

Vehicles with air bags are equipped with a light on the dash that would indicate any problems with the air bag system. However, this diagnostic system and the light will not indicate whether the air bag is a rebuilt air bag. Whether an air bag is rebuilt or not can only be determined by a repair shop and requires that the air bag be removed from the steering wheel or vehicle dash for closer inspection. MTO recommends that vehicle owners go to a qualified repair shop to determine whether rebuilt air bags from National Sacs Gonflables Inc. have been installed in their vehicle.

How much does it cost to replace a rebuilt air bag and who pays for the replacement of these defective air bags?

Costs will vary depending on the vehicle model and other factors. Replacement with a new air bag would be expected to cost more than $1000 per air bag, but could be more for some vehicles. The Quebec court ordered the air bag re-builder to cover the cost of air bag replacement, however, the company subsequently filed for bankruptcy in late December 2001. Repair shops are being directed in the letter from the Province of Quebec to contact the bankruptcy trustee if they are an unsecured creditor and wish to file a claim against the re-builder. Owners of vehicles with these defective air bags should discuss replacement with the repair shop they dealt with or their insurance company.

What should vehicle owners do if they suspect that their air bag is unsafe?

If a defective air bag cannot be replaced immediately, SAAQ recommends that it be temporarily deactivated and a replacement air bag installed as soon as possible. The Ministry does not recommend that vehicle owners attempt to deactivate an air bag themselves. This is very dangerous. Only a qualified repair shop can safely deactivate an air bag.

Can the air bag be deactivated permanently?

Transport Canada has put in place the Air Bag Deactivation Program to provide information to vehicle owners so that they can make an informed decision regarding this matter. An information package is available.

Contact Transport Canada at 1-800-333-0371 or visit their web page http://www.tc.gc.ca/en/menu.htm

When did the Société de l'assurance automobile du Québec (SAAQ) learn that rebuilt air bags are a safety hazard?

SAAQ was informed of the potential safety hazard of rebuilt air bags through a complaint from an employee of the company that manufactured these rebuilt air bags. SAAQ immediately began an investigation and laboratory testing of rebuilt air bags. The tests were carried out between August 28 2001, and November 13 2001, and the preliminary report by the École polytechnique de Montréal was submitted to SAAQ on November 14 2001. The tests determined that these rebuilt air bags were unsafe.

How can I find more information regarding this issue?

SAAQ has information on their Web site in English at: http://www.saaq.gouv.qc.ca/dossier/coussins_reconst/index_an.php
SAAQ has a phone number for inquiries: 1-866-867-8143

The public can also contact MTO INFO General Enquiry at: 1-800-268-4686 or 416-235-4686 (TTY: 1-866-471-8929 or 905-704-2426)

Repair shops, parts suppliers, car dealers, or customers of National can call 905-704-2558

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Bicycle Helmets

Do I have to wear a bicycle helmet while riding on the road?

Yes, if you are under the age of 18 you are required by law to wear an approved bicycle helmet when travelling on any public road. Cyclists over 18 are encouraged to wear helmets for their own safety, but are not required to by law.

Why was the bicycle helmet law introduced?

Research shows that helmets can be extremely effective in preventing head injuries. About three-quarters of all cycling fatalities involve head injuries. The Ontario government is committed to promoting cycling safety.

What is the fine for not wearing a helmet?

The fine is $60. With court costs of $5 and the victim fine surcharge of $10, the total is $75 for a plea of guilty.

How do I know which helmet to buy?

Consumers should look for a helmet that fits comfortably and meets safety standards. Check the inside of the helmet for stickers from one or more of the following organizations:

  • Canadian Standard Association: CAN/CSA D113.2-M89
  • Snell Memorial Foundation: Snell B90, Snell B90S, or Snell N94
  • American National Standard Institute: ANSI Z90.4-1984
  • American Society For Testing and Materials: ASTMF1447-94
  • British Standards Institute: BS6863:1989
  • Standards Association of Australia: AS2063.2-1990

Do I have to wear a bicycle helmet while riding a power-assisted bicycle (also known as an electric bicycle or e-bike)?

Anyone operating an electric bicycle must wear an approved bicycle helmet at all times.

Effective October 3, 2006, power-assisted bicycles (commonly known as electric bicycles or e-bikes) will be able to travel on Ontario roads as a bicycle. The pilot project is opened to all Ontarians 16 years of age and older and will run for three years. For the duration of the pilot, electric bicycles will be treated as bicycles and must follow the same rules of the road set out in the Highway Traffic Act. E-cyclists need to remember there are two exceptions:

  • operators must be 16 years of age and older, and
  • all operators must wear an approved bicycle helmet at all times.

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Child Safety Seats and Booster Seats


How do I know if my child safety seat is installed correctly?

It's as easy as 1, 2, 3:

  1. Choose the appropriate child safety seat according to the weight, height and age of the child
  2. When using a child car seat, make sure that the seat is tightly secured by the vehicle seatbelt or by the Universal Anchorage System (UAS).  For forward-facing car seats, ensure the tether strap is also used.  The installed child car seat should move no more than 2.5 cm (1 inch) where the seatbelt or UAS strap is routed through the child car seat.
  3. Place the child in the child car seat, ensuring the harness straps lie flat with no more than 1 finger space between the harness and the child's collarbone (rear-facing) or chest (forward-facing).

Always follow the vehicle owner's manual and the child car seat manufacturer's instructions for correct installation and use of the child safety seat.

Note: Booster seats are installed differently from child safety seats. The lap and shoulder belt combination secures both the child and the booster seat in the vehicle.

What are the child safety seat and booster seat requirements?

Everyone including parents,grandparents, relatives or friends, who drives with a child under the age of 8 who weighs less than 36 kg (80 lb.) and stands less than 145 cm (4 ft. 9 in.) tall is required to ensure the child is properly secured in the appropriate child safety seat or booster seat based on his/her height and weight.

How should an infant be secured?

Infants weighing under 9 kg (20 lbs.) are to travel properly secured in a rearward-facing child safety seat that meets the Canadian Motor Vehicle Safety Standards (CMVSS).

What is the proper way to secure a toddler?

Toddlers weighing 9 to 18 kg (20 to 40 lbs.) are to travel properly secured in a forward-facing child safety seat that complies with CMVSS and must be anchored to the vehicle using the tether strap (usually found on the back of the car seat).

When should I use a booster seat?

Children under the age of eight, who weigh 18 kg or more but less than 36 kg (40-80 lbs.), and who stand less than 145 cm (57 ins. or 4 ft. 9 ins.) must travel in a booster seat that meets the CMVSS.

When can a child start using a seatbelt alone?

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 lbs.)
  • Child is 145 cm (57 ins. or 4 ft. 9 ins.) tall

As a guide, a seat belt may only be used if a child is 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 shoulder belt must lie flat across the child's shoulder and chest, and should not cross over the child's neck. The lap portion of the belt should be positioned low over the hips, not the abdomen.

What is the penalty for non-compliance with the child car/booster seat laws?

Drivers who fail to secure or who improperly secure children may be charged, and if convicted, will be fined $110.00 and have two demerit points applied to their driving record.

Do child safety seats really improve safety?

Yes. Properly used child car seats and booster seats can significantly reduce the chance of children being hurt and/or killed in collisions.

What happens without a child safety seat?

If the child is wearing a lap belt only, the belt may ride up on the child's abdomen, particularly if the child slides forward on the seat because his/her legs are not long enough to reach over the front of the seat. This can cause internal injuries in a crash (seat belt syndrome). The lap/shoulder belt may not fit the child properly, coming across the child's face and neck. Many children will want to put the shoulder belt behind their back in this case, but this reduces or eliminates the effectiveness of the belt. Young children can slide under the lap belt, eliminating the belt's effectiveness, and possibly resulting in them being ejected from the vehicle in a crash.

How can drivers be sure their child safety seat is installed and being used correctly?

We recommend drivers follow their vehicle owner's manual and the child car seat manufacturer's instructions for installation and use. For more information about child safety seats call ServiceOntario at 1(800) 268-4686 (TTY: 1-866-471-8929), fax: 905-704-2426.

Brampton Fire and Emergency Services released a helpful DVD on how to properly install child safety seats. For further information on this DVD call 905-458-5580 or e-mail at firelife@brampton.ca. Similar information can be found on the Safe Kids Canada website at www.safekidscanada.ca or by calling 1-888-SAFE-TIPS (723-3847).

Parents and caregivers, who are having difficulty installing their child safety seats or who want to have the installation of their child car seat inspected, may contact their local public health unit. To find a public health unit, check the blue pages of your phone book, call the ServiceOntario information line at 1-800-268-4686, or visit the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care: Public Health Units

Is it okay to buy a used child safety seat?

Always use caution when buying used child safety seats. Transport Canada recently issued a consumer information notice advising that all children’s car seats and booster seats sold in Canada have an expiry or useful life date on them. The reason for this is to inform current owners and prospective buyers of the potential risks of using car seats and booster seats that may be missing important parts, labels or instructions and/or may have an unknown history that could lead to a less than optimal safe performance when needed.

Make sure any child safety seat you buy has:

  • instructions
  • all necessary hardware, straps, buckles, harnesses and chest clip
  • not been in a collision
  • not been recalled (check with the manufacturer or Transport Canada - 1-800-333-0371)
  • not expired or beyond the seat’s useful life date. Transport Canada provides a list of manufacturers of car seats and booster seats sold in Canada which includes the expiry/life date of their products at http://www.tc.gc.ca/eng/roadsafety/safedrivers-childsafety-notices-menu2-910.htm
  • no discoloured (stress) marks or cracks and the harness is not worn or torn
Photo of CMVSS label

What is the safest seat for my child?

The Ministry does not recommend particular brands of child car seats. All child car safety seats manufactured for sale in Canada must have a Canadian Motor Vehicle Safety Standard (CMVSS) label or statement of compliance on the seat. Child car seats without this label or compliance statement do not meet CMVSS requirements. Car seats made for the U.S. market have different compliance requirements.

For compliance requirements when transporting children with special needs, click here

What about built-in or integrated child safety seats and booster seats; are they approved for use in Ontario?

Yes. The entire vehicle, including built-in child car seat components, are certified for use in Canada, as meeting the requirements under the Motor Vehicle Safety Regulations (MVSR). Under the MVSR, built-in or integrated child car seats must comply with CMVSS 213.4.

Where is the safest place in the vehicle to put a child safety seat?

MTO recommends that children under the age of 13 years be placed in the back seat of the vehicle and away from active front air bags.

Are any drivers/vehicles exempt from the child safety seat requirements?

Yes. The following are exempt:

  • The driver of a taxicab, bus or public vehicle, while transporting a passenger for hire.
  • The driver of a motor vehicle that is registered in another jurisdiction and is in Ontario for 30 days or less is exempt from using booster seats until May 31, 2014.
  • The driver of an ambulance as defined in section 61 of the Act.
  • Drivers of vehicles equipped with lap belts only are exempt from using booster seats.
  • Drivers of public vehicles with a seating capacity of 10 or more persons that are operated by or under contract with a school board or other authority in charge of a school for the transportation of children are also exempt.

Where can I get more information about child safety seats?

Links to installation tips, a measurement card and information on choosing the right car seat for your child are available from the main page of the SmartLove. Technical information about child safety seats or seat belts is also available by contacting ServiceOntario toll free at 1-800-268-4686 (TTY: 1-866-471-8929), fax: 905-704-2426.

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Seat Belts and Car Seats


What do I do if there are not enough seat belts for the number of passengers I want to carry in my vehicle, i.e. car pooling or taking a group of children out?

Remember, it is the law that the driver and passengers travelling in a motor vehicle must wear a seat belt or be in the appropriate child car seat. You must limit the number of occupants in your vehicle to the number of seat belts --- one person, one seat belt.

The seat belts in my car do not work properly. Must I have them repaired?

Yes, absolutely. They must be well maintained at all times. In fact, you can be fined for having a broken seat belt even if it is not being used or required at the time you are stopped by a police officer.

If I have too many people in the vehicle, may I buckle up more than one person in a belt?

No. The seat belt is made for one person only.

What are the seatbelt and child car seat requirements when I am a passenger in a taxi?

There are no seatbelt exemptions for passengers in taxis—only for the driver when carrying passengers for hire. Therefore, you must use your seatbelt.

If you are 16 years of age or older, you can be charged and face a fine of $240, if convicted.  If you are under the age of 16, the taxi driver is responsible for ensuring you use the seatbelt properly.  Taxi drivers who fail to ensure children are using a seatbelt properly can be charged, and if convicted, face a fine of $240 and two demerit points on their driver record.

Taxi drivers are exempt from the child car and booster seat requirements when transporting a passenger for hire. However, taxicab drivers transporting children for personal reasons or those that operate a taxi while under contract with a school board or other authority for the transportation of children are required to comply with the child car seat and booster seat requirements.

How would I transport a child with special needs?

If your child has a special need (such as a medical condition that does not allow your child to use a conventional child car seat), you may choose to use an alternative child restraint system that complies with federal safety standards.  These restraints would meet federal standards for governing alternate restraints for children with special needs (i.e., CMVSS 213.3 and 213.5).  For more information, please visit: http://laws.justice.gc.ca/en/SOR-98-159/.

What are some types of special needs restraints?

Car beds/restraints for premature/low-birth weight infants:  Infants who were born at less than 37 weeks gestation or who weigh less than 2500 g (about 5.5 lbs) may now travel in a car bed if unable to use a conventional rear-facing child car seat.  Car beds are available through Equipment Loan Programs – speak with your health care provider.

Snug Seat Hippo:  This is a paediatric product and is used by children requiring casts.

EZ-On Vest:  These safety vests are designed for children with poor trunk control, certain casts and children diagnosed with a developmental disability.  The child must be at least 2 years of age and weigh between 9 and 76 kg (20-168 lbs.).

Modified EZ-On Vest – This safety vest is designed for children who must travel lying down (e.g., certain casts).  These vests are designed for children 2 to 12 years of age who weigh between 9 and 45 kg (20-100 lbs.).

How can I get these restraints?

Cosco Dream Ride Infant Car Seat/Bed (restraint for premature/low-birth weight infants); Britax Child Safety, Inc.; Snug Seat (Snug Seat Hippo); Dorel Distribution Canada; EZ-ON Products Inc. and Perry Rand Limited Transportation Group (EZ-On Vest); The Motion Group, and SOS Rehabilitation are just some of the manufacturers of these special restraint systems.  Speak to your child’s health care provider, physiotherapist or occupational therapist.  He/she should be able to provide you with the information you need.

How would I learn to use these types of restraints?

Speak to your child’s occupational/physiotherapist therapist or other health care provider.  He/she would be able to provide you with the information you need.

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Child Restraints for Children with special needs

What are the recent changes to Ontario's child car seat rules?

Effective July 1, 2009, amendments to Regulation 613 (Seat Belt Assemblies) will:

  • Permit the use of alternative types of restraints (e.g., car beds) for children with special needs (e.g., underweight, premature infants);
  • Permit the use of integrated or built-in child car seats or booster seats;
  • Remove the exemption for rented/leased vehicles;
  • Remove exemptions for infants and toddlers traveling in a vehicle registered in another jurisdiciton; and
  • Reduce the booster seat exemption period from 60 to 30 days for vehicles registered in another jurisdiction, with complete removal in five years (expires on July 1, 2014).

Are you saying that parents must use these special restraints if their child has a spcial need??

No.  The change is permissive, not mandatory.  What it does is provide parents and caregivers with an option to either use a conventional style child car seat or a federally-approved child car restraint system that is just right for their child and his/her special need.

What are some of the medical conditions that could be covered?

Medical conditions include scoliosis (lateral curvature of the spine), orthopaedic conditions (e.g., casts), autism, cerebral palsy, positional apnea (cessation of breathing based on position) and some gastrointestinal disorders.

What are some kinds of alternative restraints that can now be used?

Photo of Car Bed

Car Beds

  • Can be used by premature infants – less than 37 weeks gestation or who weigh less than 2500 g (about 5.5 lbs.).
  • Available through Equipment Loan Programs (e.g., Macklems), which are mandated by Transport Canada.
  • Parents cannot purchase these car beds; available through health-care facilities only.
  • Cost about $100.

Photo of Snug Seat Hippo

Snug Seat Hippo

  • For use by children with casts.
  • Costs about $640



E-Z-On Vest

Photo of E-Z-On Vest

  • Generally used by children with developmental disabilities (e.g., autism)
  • Child must be at least 2 years of age and weigh 20-168 lbs.
  • Costs range from $217-$250.



Photo of Modified E-Z-On Vest

Modified E-Z-On Vest

For children:
  • who must travel lying down (e.g., casts).
  • who are between the ages of 2 and 12 and weigh between 9 kg and 45 kg (20-100 lbs.) .
  • Costs range from $250-$290.

Where can someone get these restraints?

Several distributors across Canada make the products available to parents and caregivers, transportation organizations, health care facilities, etc. These companies include:

  • Cosco Dream Ride Infant Car Seat/Bed (supply restraints for premature/low-birth weight infants)
  • Britax Child Safety, Inc.
  • Snug Seat (supplies Snug Seat Hippo)
  • Dorel Distribution Canada
  • E-Z-On Products Inc.
  • Perry Rand Limited Transportation Group (supplies E-Z-On Vest)
  • The Motion Group and SOS Rehabilitation are among the distributors of alternative restrain systems.

What are the cost implications for parents/caregivers?

In Canada, alternative restraints range in price from $17 to $1,300.

Do I need anything special (i.e., doctor's note) to purchase one of these restraints?

There are two types of restraints, “production” and “custom restraints”.  Production restraints are off-the-shelf products, whereas custom restraints are made especially for one child.  Distributors of custom restraints require a note from a medical practitioner, health care provider, physiotherapist or occupational therapist.

Please check with the distributor.

Do I need to carry a doctor's note when transporting my child using an alternative type of restraint?

No, you do not need to carry a doctor’s note with you when transporting your child with special needs. Each child restraint will bear a National Safety Mark that indicates it meets all federal safety standards.

Note: When purchasing an E-Z-On Vest (regular or modified), you will receive a letter from the manufacturer.  This letter must be carried at all times to prove that the vest meets federal standards, as the vest will not have a National Safety Mark.

Where can I go to learn how to properly install one of these new child car seats?

As is the current practice, it is expected that the child’s occupational/physiotherapist, therapist or other health care provider would be responsible for teaching parents/caregivers how to use these types of restraints.

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Child Car Seat change of rules and exemptions for visitors, rented vehicles, taxis and buses

Why are you proposing to remove child car seat exemptions for vehicles registered in other jurisdictions?

All North American jurisdictions have child safety seat laws to protect infants and toddlers.  Exemptions for these children are no longer required.  Removing these exemptions can serve to protect ALL children on Ontario roads, not just those who live here.

Why is the exemption period on booster seats for visitors to the province being shortened to 30 days and why is it being removed after 5 years?

Most, but not all, North American jurisdictions have booster seat laws. Many provinces and states that do not currently have a booster seat law are moving in this direction. Those that do have booster seat laws may have requirements that are not as stringent as Ontario’s.  That’s why some exemptions are still required.  The 5-year transition period to removing this exemption in its entirety should provide sufficient time to communicate changes to visitors to this province. 

This exemption ends on July 1, 2014.

Why are child car seat exemptions for rented or leased vehicles being removed?

Removing the exemptions for rented or leased vehicles will ensure that any child travelling in these vehicles is properly secured and travelling in the safest way possible.  Rental car companies may provide child car seats for their customers.  You should check with the company first for availability.

I'm visiting Ontario for three weeks and will be renting a car during my stay. What are the rules for transporting my children?

You must follow Ontario’s child car seat rules if you are transporting an infant or a toddler, regardless of where your vehicle is registered.  If you are travelling in a vehicle registered in another jurisdiction, you are exempt from the booster seat requirement for the first 30 days that you are in the province.  After that, you must use the appropriate booster seat.

You may use a child car seat or booster seat from your home jurisdiction if travelling in a vehicle registered in another jurisdiction.  If driving an Ontario-plated vehicle, you must use a seat that fully complies with Ontario’s child car seat laws. 

I'm visiting Ontario for three months and will be renting a car during my stay. What will be the new rules for transporting my children?

Exemptions from the child car seat requirements are no longer available for vehicles rented in Ontario.  All children who should be in a child car seat or booster based on age, height and/or weight must be properly secured in the appropriate child restraint system.

If the vehicle is rented outside of Ontario, all infants (children under nine kg) and toddlers (children who weigh nine kg or more but less than 18 kg) must be in a child car seat. 

If you are travelling with a child who should be in a booster seat, and the vehicle you are driving is registered in another jurisdiction, then you are exempt from using that booster seat for the first 30 days of your visit.  After that period, your child must be in a booster seat.  This exemption will be completely removed on July 1, 2014.

What are the seat belt and child car seat requirements when I am a passenger in a taxi?

There are no seat belt exemptions for passengers in taxis—only for the driver when carrying passengers for hire. A passenger must use his/her seat belt.

Taxi drivers are exempt from the child car seat and booster seat requirements when transporting a passenger for hire.  However, taxicab drivers transporting children for personal reasons or those that operate a taxi while under contract with a school board or other authority for the transportation of children are required to comply with the child car seat and booster seat requirements.

If you are 16 years of age or older, you can be charged for not wearing a seat belt and face a fine of $240 if convicted.  If you are under the age of 16, the taxi driver is responsible for ensuring you use the seat belt properly.  Taxi drivers who fail to ensure children are using a seat belt properly can be charged, and if convicted, face a fine of $240 and two demerit points on their driver record.

Aren't integrated seats already allowed in Ontario?

Yes, integrated seats that meet the requirements under the Motor Vehicle Safety Regulations (MVSR) have always been allowed in Ontario. This change removes any doubt around the use of integrated seats by making it clear they are permitted for use in Ontario.

Does this new law apply to motor coaches or school buses?

Buses for hire, including school buses, will continue to be exempt from the child car seat rules.

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