A research report released by Union Road Transport & Highways Minister Nitin Gadkari also highlights the shocking state of children’s road safety in India.
New Delhi: Did you know that in India, it has been mandatory for rear-seat passengers in cars to wear seat belts for the last 30 years?
The Motor Vehicle Act, 1988, states that wherever seat belts are provided, “it shall be ensured that the driver, and the person seated in the front seat or the persons occupying front facing rear seats, as the case may be, wear the seat belts while the vehicle is in motion”.
And yet, a new research conducted by Nissan India and SaveLIFE Foundation has found that only 7 per cent of rear-seat passengers wear seat belts across 11 major Indian cities. Eighty-one per cent of them know that rear-seat belts exist, but choose not to wear them, not realising that this basic safety measure can turn out to be a life-saver in case of an accident.
Taj Hasan, Delhi’s Special Commissioner of Police (Traffic) confirmed to ThePrint that the implementation of this rule has been weak. “Passengers can be challaned for it, but the law has not been implemented strongly.”
Bigger problem among the elite
The research report, titled ‘Rear Seat-Belt Usage and Child Road Safety in India’, was released by Union Minister for Road Transport & Highways Nitin Gadkari Friday.
Speaking at the launch of the report, Gadkari said: “The government is spending more than Rs 20,000 crore to rectify accident prone black spots on roads across the country, in order to reduce fatalities in such incidents.”
The cities covered under this study were Guwahati, Kolkata, Chennai, Patna, Panaji, Bengaluru, Jaipur, Lucknow, Delhi-NCR, Kochi and Mumbai.
A separate analysis was done in strategic locations of Delhi, Mumbai, Bengaluru, Jaipur, Kolkata and Lucknow, whereby 1,778 vehicles of those holding public office were observed separately. It was found that 98.2 per cent of rear-seat passengers were commuting without wearing seat belts.
The latest government data shows that 9,408 children lost their lives to road accidents in 2017 alone – nearly 26 every day – and 64 per cent of parents surveyed considered city roads unsafe for their children.
And yet, despite 92.8 per cent of respondents being aware of the safety benefits of child helmets, only 20.1 per cent owned one.
Among car-owning parents, 71.9 per cent displayed an unwillingness to pay for child seats or child-restraint systems.
In terms of school transport, the report also noted that close to 90 per cent buses and vans were not fitted with seat-belts for passengers.
Piyush Tewari, founder and CEO of SaveLIFE Foundation, noted: “This report documents, for the first time in India, the concerning state of child safety on our roads and the public’s perception and expectation regarding the usage of rear seat belts.
“High road crash fatality cannot be accepted as the norm. It is high time that basic safety provisions are made mandatory across the country.”