Monthly Enforcement

November 2019 STEP - Occupant Restraints

The Selective Traffic Enforcement Program (STEP) for the month of November will focus on the proper use of occupant restraints, particularly child safety seats.  Throughout the month, police will work closely with Alberta Health Services, Safety City and other community partners to educate the public on occupant and child safety restraints.  MHPS will be conducting safety compliance check stops in various locations where we will be targeting seatbelt usage and child safety restraints.  The goal of these compliance checks is to ensure that all occupants are properly restrained, child safety seats are properly installed and that children are in the appropriate seat/position. 

It’s important to buckle up every time you drive, no matter how short the distance. Properly used seat belts can reduce fatal and serious injury by 45-65% and without a booster seat, a child is 3.5 times more likely to suffer a significant injury!  From 2012 to 2016 there were 341 unbelted fatalities in Alberta.

When determining the safest restraint system for your child please consider the following guidelines:

Transport Canada recommends that children should remain in a rear facing car seat for as long as possible, until they have reached the maximum weight or height limit for rear-facing seats as stated by the child seat manufacturer.  Please check the labels on your child restraint seats for these specifications.

Forward facing child safety seats normally have a 5 point harness and must be attached using either the seatbelt or the vehicle’s UAS (universal anchor system).  A forward facing seat must also have a top tether strap attached to the back of the seat.  Be sure to carefully follow the installation instructions as specified by the child safety seat manufacturer, and if you’re unsure please consult a certified child safety seat technician.

Once a child has reached the maximum forward-facing weight or height limit of their safety seat as specified by the manufacturer, they should move to a booster seat. The Transport Canada guidelines state that this transition can occur once the child has reached 18 kg (40 lbs) and is under 145cm (4 feet 9 inches). A child usually reaches this criteria when they are between 8 and 12 years of age.

A child is ready to move from a booster to a seat belt when:

  • They are at least 145cm (4 feet 9 inches) tall.
  • Their knees bend comfortably at the edge of the seat when seated with their backs flat against the back of the seat.
  • The lap belt stays low and snug across the hip bones.
  • The shoulder belt crosses the chest and stays between your child’s neck and shoulder.
  • They can sit like this for the whole trip without slouching.

Until you can check all 5 boxes, your child should continue to use a booster seat.

All child safety seats have an expiry that must be adhered to.  It’s also critical that any child seat that has been in a collision should be replaced immediately.  MHPS cautions parents from buying second hand car seats as the history of the seat may be unknown and this may put your child are risk.  When disposing of used or damaged car seats please ensure that you cut the straps on the seat so it cannot be reclaimed and reused, or sold to unsuspecting parents.

It is the driver’s legal responsibility to ensure that every passenger under the age of 16 years is properly secured in the vehicle. Unrestrained or improperly restrained occupants could result in a fine against the driver, the passenger or both. But more importantly your safety depends on it as unbelted occupants continue to be one of the leading causes of death and serious injury in motor vehicle collisions.

For questions or assistance with car seat installations you may contact any of the following:

Medicine Hat Police Service Traffic Unit – 884 2nd Street SE, 403-529-8471

Alberta Health Services – 2948 Dunmore Rd SE, 403-502-8302

Safety City – 2055 21 Ave SE, 403-529-2912

More information on child safety seats, including notices and recalls, can be found at: or by calling Transport Canada toll free at 1-800-333-0371

For more information contact:

Sgt. Gerald Sadlemyer
Traffic Unit
Medicine Hat Police Service
Ph: 403-529-8471