The death of Cyrus Mistry, former chairman of the Tata Group, in a car crash on Sunday last has turned out into a wake-up call for passengers in the back seat who almost give goby to strapping seat belts. Also, there is not so much compliance when it comes to wearing a front seat either, although it gets noticed when there is checking by men in blue.
As per experts, by not wearing a seat belt, a passenger can be thrown frontwards in the event of a car coming to a sudden halt on account of the crash impact or sometimes due to some unseen thing coming suddenly. The result is injuries and possible end of life. Also, the airbags typically work in tandem with the seat belt.
Pertinently, a study by SaveLIFE Foundation and Nissan released in January 2019 recorded that only seven percent people in India always wear seat belts while sitting in the back seat, another 26% wear it sometimes, and the rest never wear it.
Also it is important to note that in the crashes investigated over the years by experts, overspeeding has consistently been a major cause of casualties in road accidents while the non-usage of seat belts or helmets in case of two-wheelers has emerged as a major cause of injury and fatalities.
The law on the subject requires seat belts to be worn, not just for one’s safety but the wellbeing of other occupants as a single unbelted passenger can collide with and severely injure co-passengers.
According to Rule 138(3) of the Central Motor Vehicle Rules, persons “seated in the front seat or the persons occupying front-facing rear seats” must wear seat belts while the vehicle is in motion. Also, non-wearing of seat-belts by the driver or passengers has been made punishable with a fine of one thousand rupees according to Section 194B(1) of the Motor Vehicles Act, 1988 (as amended by the Motor Vehicles (Amendment) Act, 2019.
Even with law and safety elaborate concerns, the use of seat belts is very rare. What is also the need of the hour is to devote some time and think about the consequences of over speeding, wrong takeovers, non-compliances to safety measures such as seat belts for four-wheelers and helmets for two-wheelers. There is also need for a wide-ranging awareness campaign to address the issue of road accidents and compliance to road safety measures. A combination of these is required for the prevention of road accident deaths and injuries being witnessed in record numbers in contemporary times as depicted in figures released recently by the NCRB.