Why is India reluctant to wear seat belts?

Seat belt norms need to be enforced in a stricter manner

The tragic death of former Tata Sons Chairman Cyrus Mistry in a road accident has brought back concerns of safe travel on Indian roads. Fifty-four-year-old Mistry, who had been travelling in the rear seat of the Mercedes, lost his life tragically when the car crashed into a divider on a bridge at Palghar, some 120 km away from Mumbai.

Mistry was travelling with three other family friends who included renowned gynaecologist Dr Anahita Pandole, her husband Darius Pandole and Jehangir Pandole, Darius’ brother, from Udvada, a Parsi pilgrim town in Gujarat. Dr Anahita Pandole was at the wheel when the mishap occurred. It has been reported that the car was accelerating while trying to overtake another vehicle from the wrong side.

Cyrus Mistry death brings back focus on seat belts

The tragedy has brought back the focus on the use of seat belts. Police investigation has already proved that the former Tata Sons chairman was in the backseat and had not worn a seat belt. When a car is made, safety concerns are addressed as they form the most important aspect while on the road. There have been multiple awareness campaigns on the significance of wearing seat belts, be it in the front seat or the rear. Sadly, such campaigns are ignored.

A look at cars that cruise or speed along highways would present a dark picture. While there are many who think that seat belts are an unnecessary addition in their vehicles, there are even more people who laugh at having seat belts in the rear.  A look at the Cyrus Mistry incident would throw light on how important seat belts are, whether you are sitting in front or the back seat.

As Union Minister Nitin Gadkari pointed out a while ago, many passengers who sit in the back seat feel that they do not need seat belts. It indeed has been proven beyond doubt why wearing a seat belt is of utmost importance. It even reminds one that Cyrus Mistry would have lived if he had put on the seat belt.

Stricter rules, heftier penalties needed

Going forward, India needs to learn from the tragedy of Cyrus Mistry. Also, the government needs to enforce seat belt rules in a stricter manner. It needs to ensure that front-seaters as well as those sitting in the back would have to wear seat belts or pay hefty penalties.

Considering the Union Minster Nitin Gadkari would want to enforce stricter norms, we need to expect that things would change. But then, it all depends on the way passengers and drivers think. For that to happen the government will need to impose heavy penalties on those who don’t follow the norms.

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