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Canadian Public Health Association

Milestones: motor-vehicle safety

1947 - Elmer the Safety Elephant had his debut in Toronto, bringing his traffic safety rules to school children, such as "Look both ways before crossing the street" and "Keep away from parked cars."

1969 - Breath tests became compulsory for anyone suspected of drinking and driving in Canada.

1970s - Since the early 1970s, Transport Canada has required that seat belts be fitted in all new motor vehicles in Canada.

1971 - The first automobile emission control regulations were established in Canada.

1976 - Ontario became the first jurisdiction in North America to make seatbelt usage in motor vehicles mandatory. All provinces passed similar types of legislation by the late 1980s.

1977 - The first organized roadside spot checks began in Ontario to respond to the problem of holiday drinking and driving. It was called RIDE (Reduce Impaired Driving Everywhere). Alberta followed with a similar program called Checkstop. These programs are now common in every province.

1978 - More than 4,000 cars and trucks from American automakers were being recalled in Canada every day, primarily because the Pinto's fuel tank was prone to explosions in rear-end collisions.

1984 - Volunteers in Quebec City launched the program Opération Nez Rouge (Operation Red Nose), offering drivers who felt they had had too much to drink a drive home. This service has since spread to most other provinces.

1990 - Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD Canada) was formed to create a national network to stop impaired driving.

2002 - A car wreck in the U.S. claimed the lives of five people, four of whom were Canadians, on their way to a vacation in Florida; investigators revealed that the crash was caused by a young driver who was arguing with her boyfriend on a cellular phone.

2003 - Newfoundland and Labrador became the first province to ban the use of hand-held cell phones while driving.