BEHIND THE WHEEL: Children should not be ‘out of sight, out of mind’

As a parent, I know that children will do things that they are not supposed to, even after you caution them not to and explain what the consequences might be for disobeying.

It takes effort and a sense of responsibility to follow up and make sure that the rules are followed. However, after watching some young motorcyclists in Ladysmith the other day I began to wonder how often out of sight, out of mind was the way some parents operate.

We are very fortunate that we can buy, or even that our children can afford to own, a motorcycle or ATV. Even more fortunate are those children whose parents care enough to participate in the use of these machines and ensure that they are used properly and lawfully. If your property is not large enough, then the machines and their riders need to be legally transported to a place that is.

Given the number of times that I have seen incidents like this over the years, it is clear that some parents simply turn their children loose to ride as they choose and don’t consider the consequences. We may think about them getting hurt, or perhaps being fined for improper use, but the possibilities don’t end there. If these riders were to cause a collision on the highway they are not insured and the victims or the courts may expect the parents to pay.

The next time your child sets out on their motorcycle or other ATV you need to know where they are going and how they are going to get there. It doesn’t take much thought to know if they can accomplish the trip without riding on or across a highway. If they cannot manage this, it is up to you to make sure that you get them to an appropriate setting to use the machine safely.

Seat belts save info

Part of the investigation of any serious motor vehicle collision is an examination of the seatbelts to determine if the person in that seating position was restrained or not. The outcome could determine whether a ticket for failing to wear the restraint was issued or not but I suspect that more commonly the information was used to determine liability. If you were not wearing your seatbelt your award for injury could be reduced by the courts.

The simplest method involved fully extending the belt. Many manufacturers sew a label at the retractor end of the belt that is exposed if the belt is subjected to sufficient force. You may wish to try this if you are considering the purchase of a used vehicle because it could indicate that the vehicle was involved in a significant collision sometime in its life.

Reading the information in the vehicle’s “black box” will show the status of the driver’s belt switch. While this may mean that the belt was fastened and then just placed behind the driver, damage (or lack of it) to the interior of the vehicle could be used to corroborate or disprove it.

Characteristic damage occurs to the belt and fittings when an occupant is restrained in a crash caused by the tremendous forces involved. Frayed edges, melted plastic smears, D ring impressions and belt fabric impressions are frequently found. The pawl that stops the retractor reel will dent the metal teeth it sits against.

Finally, the investigator can look to medical personnel for evidence. A properly worn seatbelt causes specific injury to the wearer. Thankfully this injury is much less significant than what would occur if the seatbelt was not used.

 

 

Tim Schewe is a retired constable with many years of traffic law enforcement experience. To comment or learn more, please visit drivesmartbc.ca.

 

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