Mumbai Police and Karnataka Police have issued new guidelines mandating seatbelts for rear seat passengers of cars in Maharashtra and Karnataka respectively. While Mumbai police has issued a press note mandating the use of rear seatbelts from 1st November 2022, Karnataka police has noted that the usage of rear seatbelts comes into effect from 19th of September 2022, and those violating this rule will be fined Rs. 1000 for non-compliance.
On the 18th of October, 2022, R Hithendra, Additional Director General of Police (ADGP) (Road Safety) Karnataka, issued an order to all police commissionerates and district police heads in Karnataka, to enforce the rule. Meanwhile, here is the press note shared by the Mumbai police,
Install seatbelts if your vehicle does not have them: Mumbai police
As the press note shared by the Mumbai police clearly indicates, vehicle owners are required to install rear seatbelts if such a provision does not exist in their vehicles. Blaming the lack of seatbelts is no excuse for non-compliance, the note adds. The grace period until the 1st of November 2022 is meant to give time to fit rear seat belts in cars that don’t have them.
How Cyrus Mistry’s fatal crash paved way for the rule change…
Rear seatbelts were made mandatory in the days following the tragic accident and resulting death of business magnate Cyrus Mistry. Mr Mistry, along with his friend died on the Mumbai-Ahmedabad highway when the Mercedes Benz GLC luxury SUV he was traveling in rammed into a road divider. Mr. Mistry and his friend Jehangir Pandole died in the accident.
Post crash investigations revealed that both Mr. Mistry and Mr. Pandole were seated on the rear seat, and that they were not wearing seatbelts. Both men died nearly instantly. Wearing seatbelts could have saved their lives even as the front passengers – Anahita Pandole (driver) and Darius Pandole (co-passenger) survived the crash. Both Anahita and Darius were wearing seatbelts.
Soon after the accident, Mr. Nitin Gadkari, the union transport minister, announced that rear seatbelts would be made mandatory for all cars in India shortly. On the 19th of September, 2022, the ministry of transport issued a notification making seatbelts mandatory for all passengers in front facing seats, implying that even passengers seated on the rear seats needed to wear seatbelts. Mr. Gadkari also banned the sale of seatbelt alarm blockers on online marketplaces such as Flipkart and Amazon, and announced that seatbelt reminder chimes for the rear seats would soon be made mandatory.
Why are seat belts so important?
Airbags and seatbelts go hand-in-hand
Airbags are supplemental restraint systems. And in nearly all modern cars, airbags work only when seatbelts are worn. This is because of the fact that airbags use explosives to deploy, and if an airbag hits a passenger who’s not worn a seatbelt, it could end up seriously burning/injuring the passenger. Seatbelts also prevent the passenger from being thrown around in a car during an accident. This is why it’s so important for everyone in the car to wear seatbelts.