Jaspal Bhatti accident puts spotlight on deaths due to lax seat belt norms

FP

Joint Commissioner, Traffic, of Delhi Police Satyendra Garg says in Delhi, it is not mandatory for passengers on rear seats to fasten seat belts. "Since the speed limit on Delhi highways is 70kmph, wearing rear seat belts was not made mandatory for commuters," he said. Garg said prosecution is not the need. "We need people to imbibe a sense of security," he said.

In Punjab, traffic experts say that in spite of increased surveillance to monitor mortality in road accidents, rear seat belts have not been the priority area. Pritpal Singh, a Punjab-based road traffic expert, said, "Of the total challans issued for not wearing seat belts, we have barely issued 100 challans for the entire state for rear seat belts."

Representatives of many automobile companies say that seat belts are actually more important in back seats. A Sudeep Narayan, Volvo Auto India Marketing and PR Director, said though the concept of seat belts was first introduced in India by the company in 1953, back seat belts are still a novel concept.

"In cars, seat belts play a larger role than air bags in preventing injuries," he said. According to Mayak Pareek, COO (marketing and sales) of Maruti Suzuki, the number of passengers should not be more than the designated capacity so that everyone can wear their seat belts.

While trauma centres in India have performed many studied on two-wheeler accidents and the need for helmets, data on fatalities of rear seat passengers is hard to come by. According to Dr S N Mathuriya, incharge of head trauma and neurosurgery at the PGI Chandigarh, trauma centre, said 90 per cent of rear seat passengers in India do not wear seat belts.

— With inputs from Ananya Bhardwaj

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