We, at Motown India, love safety as much as we love the
vehicles that we drive. Sadly, the people of our country, many of who claim to
be auto enthusiasts, are not so keen on the safety aspects. The state of safety
on Indian roads and our careless attitude towards following traffic rules is
shocking, but more shocking facts are some of the figures released in a recent
The Rear Seat Belt Usage and Child Road Safety in India
study, conducted by research firm MDRA for Nissan India and SaveLIFE
Foundation, covered 11 Indian cities and recorded responses through 6,306
face-to –face interviews, 100 in-depth interviews, two focused group
discussions and on-site observations to gauge compliance of CBSE School Bus
guidelines as well as usage of rear seat belts. The report brings out many grim
facts about safety on roads in our country. Road crashes are the leading cause
of death amongst people between the age group of 5-29 years. In 2017, 25
children below the age of 18 were killed on Indian roads every day.
While most people seated in the front row of a car do wear
seatbelts, a very small fraction of people wears seatbelts in the second row. In
2017 alone, 26,896 people died due to not using rear seat belts. While we do
have laws in India mandating the use of seat seatbelts for the driver and co
passenger as well for those at the rear to wear them, not many in the country
do so. According to the Central Motor Vehicles Rules 1989 Rule 138, it is
mandatory for the driver and the person seated in the front seat as well as the
“persons occupying front facing rear seats, as the case may be, wear the seat
belts while the vehicle is in motion”.
Around 91pc people reported that they have never been stopped
by police for breaking that law. Only 7pc people said that they use rear seat
belts while a shocking 27.7pc people were not even aware that there is a law
that mandates use of seat belts in the second row of cars. However, none of
these metrics are as shocking as the almost 1/4th of the people not
even being aware of the existence of rear seat seatbelts in cars!
It is sad to know these facts as all of cars being manufactured
today come with seatbelts for all rear seat occupants. Some people even had the
misconception that rear seatbelts do not improve safety. According to World
Health Organization (WHO), usage of rear seat belts reduces risk of death by
25pc and injuries by 75pc in case of an accident.
The problem also extends to school buses, which for many
parents is the preferred mode of transport for their child. Observe any school
bus passing by on the road and the chances are extremely high that you will
find the kids sitting on seats without any seatbelt. Same is reflected in
MDRA’s report which states that only 10pc school buses have seatbelts for
The government should take steps in spreading awareness
regarding the law and the traffic police should enforce the same more
diligently. It is a known fact that getting your driver’s licenses in India is
very easy and there aren’t any proper methods of teaching the people how they
should behave when they are riding or driving on the road. There are many
driving schools in our country, the biggest one of them being the Maruti
Suzuki’s Institute of Driving and Traffic Research. Institutes like IDTR have
highly trained professionals who teach people the correct way of driving on
roads using classroom learning and practical training in a closed course, with
highly advanced real-time imaging and results being available to the driver, to
analyse and correct their faults. This is not a very expensive process to go
through and yet 41pc adolescents admit to have learnt driving from their
parents or relatives. Learning this way not only puts people’s life in danger
but also means that the learner will not be acquainted with most of the
important laws of the land.
Though they say charity begins at home, such is not the case
with the law enforcers when it comes to following traffic rules. Leaving the
matter of vigilant law enforcement aside, these people of authority are often
times spotted riding motorcycles without helmet or driving around without
putting on seat belts. The same can also be said for other public figures. Even
in most of the movies that we see, the hero seldom pays heed to rules of the
land in favour of looking cool.
But all is not lost. The government is trying to rectify as
many problems as they can. According to Nitin Gadkari, Union Minister for Road
Transport & Highways, an investment of Rs 20,000 Cr is being made to
improve roads and infrastructure. It was mentioned in the report that 43.8pc
parents cited bad infrastructure as the cause of concern for safety of children
on road. The roads we encounter daily are riddled with potholes, there aren’t
enough foot over bridges or underground crossings for people to cross the road.
Rainy season only makes things worse with traffic lights giving up and roads
being filled with water which leads to dangerous situation for those driving.
Water clogging on roads can hide potholes and lead to accidents for people who
casually walk or drive over them. In many areas walking along the road means
walking on the road as the footpaths are often illegally occupied by shops or
stalls. It is rare to see any action being taken against these people who
encroach on land that was meant for walking.
There are also plans to develop an app which can be used by
the police to record details related to an accident. This data can then be
analyzed without much delay in order to counter such issues in the future. On
top of this, every car manufactured after July 1, 2019 will have to come with
front seat belt reminders. Gadkari also felt that road safety is not a
political subject and they need the cooperation of media and educational
institutions to spread awareness and impart knowledge relating to the subject.
While it is true that the survey reflected the nonchalant
behavior of the people of our country towards road safety and rules, is it
right to expect OEMs to keep packing seat belt reminders if we tend to just
buckle the belt and sit on top of it? Is it right to expect the government to
keep making new laws for our safety when we tend to break them anyway? Is it
right to call ourselves mature adults and auto enthusiasts if we need someone
else to impose laws on us that save our own lives?
If you look at the survey then you will realise that while
80.8pc of parents want a law that mandates use of child helmet while most of
them would not use a child helmet till there is a law in place. Once again,
even though 64.3pc parents feel that Indian roads are unsafe for children,
33.3pc parents admit to have not taken any action when they caught their
underage child driving. Around 89.7pc adolescents said that their parents knew
that they drive vehicles despite being underage and not having a license.
Saying that this survey was conducted on a crowd that was
hugely made of people who did not have access to education might be a thought
that might cross your mind, but that is far from the truth. Only 1.4pc of the
adults/parents, 2.4pc drivers were illiterate while there was no child in this
survey that had not received education of any kind. While most of the modern
cars come with ISOFIX mounts for child seats, it is sad to know that 75.7pc
people are not aware of child restraint systems. Only 3.5pc people used CRS. We
love our kids so much that we prefer holding them in our lap even when we are
seated in the front passenger seat. In our previous reports we have talked
about how your love can actually be fatal for your child in case of a crash.
It is high time that we realised the danger that we put ourselves
and our loved ones in, every time we commute on roads. Let us not wait around
for someone else to state the obvious for us. It is time that we ‘buckle up’
and made commuting safe.
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