India’s population growth is equivalent to 17% of the world’s population and ranked 2nd based on the Worldometer elaborated by the United Nations data as of 2020.[i] This data also tells us that with the growth in the population rate the number of motor vehicles per family also increases and this increases the traffic in the country which ultimately also results in the increase in the number of road accidents due to driving in the wrong side of the road, speeding of the vehicle, etc.
To control the road traffic and road fatalities the Central Government of India setup traffic rules and regulations, according to which every citizen of India has to abide by. The state government is responsible for taking a rigorous step against the violator by charging fines and the driving license of such gets suspended for a specified period of time. As per section 125-A of the Central Vehicle Rules, 1989, the driver has to ensure that the person who is seated on the rear-front of the vehicle has worn the seat-belt while the vehicle is in motion.
As per the Ministry of Road Transport and Highway 2018 report 16.1%, the death is caused due to non-wearing of seat-belts by the drivers and passengers[ii]. Road accidents will not decrease by wearing a seat-belt while driving a car but the death and serious injuries which are caused by such accidents could be decreased. However, to create strictness in the law, the Central government has hiked the penalties against the rule-breaker by amending the Motor Vehicle Amendment Act, 2019.
What are the penalties charged for not wearing a seat-belt?
When a driver drives a car without wearing a seat belt in India they have to pay fine of rupees 1000 as per section 194B (1) of the Motor Vehicle Amendment Act, 2019[iii]. The driving license will not be suspended in this scenario, the driver will only be charged with a fine which is specified by the Act.
The main motive behind amending the Motor Vehicle Act, 1989 was to create a sense of responsibility among the citizens and the State Government regarding road safety rules and regulations. As the report of the Ministry of Road Transport Highway 2018 has suggested that there was a significant increase in death per year due to not wearing a seat-belt. The Central Government has taken a precautionary step against road fatalities.
What is the importance of wearing a seat-belt?
It is the responsibility of every driver and co-passenger to always wear a seat-belt not only while driving on highways but also for even a small distance. Wearing a seat-belt for sure not decreases the road accidents but in a situation where accidents could occur, the fatal result that is death could be avoided. India is the 3rd largest populated country and the rate of road accidents is also by 11% of total world road accidents[iv].
Although there are road traffic control laws in India as a responsible citizen we should spread awareness about the necessity of wearing a seat-belt. As one’s life is attached to other’s life. The importance of wearing a seat belt are:
- When a car is driven the chances are that anyone either a pedestrian or stray animals could come in between the road, so if a sudden brake is applied by the driver he could be saved from a possible jerk.
- When someone is seating on the rear front side of the car next to the driver, the percent of survival from the car accident is higher than those who do not wear a seat belt.
- Kids who are in the car they should be seated at the back seat with a seat belt.
However, the new cars that are launched in the market come with the new facilities, that can detect if the driver or if the co-passenger is wearing a seat belt or not, if not then the alarm starts and it will not stop until they wear it. But in a few cars that are not SUVs in them, this facility is not there, so the driver and co-passenger have to be aware of their own safety.
What is the World Health Organization report regarding road accidents?
The world health organization 2018 report showed that the reason for the death in the youth aged between 5 years to 29 years of old results because of road accident injuries[v]. The percent of death is increasing only. The road accidents are highest in low-income countries like Africa and South-east Asia with a global rate of 26.6 and 20.6 per 100,000 population and lowest in high-income countries like America with 15.6 per 100,000 population and Europe with 9.3 per 100,000 population.
Is wearing a seat belt in other countries compulsory as per law?
There are countries where there is the law regarding seat-belt and countries where there is law but the drivers and co-passengers percentage of wearing a seat belt is low whereas there are countries where the percentage of wearing a seat belt is high. The following are the countries where laws are followed and where not. These are:
- Afghanistan; has no law regarding wearing a seat belt while a car is in motion.
- Argentina; has laws regarding the same and the rate at which a driver and co-passenger wears a seat belt is 41% and 23%. There is a prohibition for children below 10years from seating on the front seat.
- Australia; has laws regarding the same and the rate at which a driver and co-passenger wears a seat belt is 97% and 96%. The children below 7years are restrained from seating on the front seat.
- Belgium; has laws regarding the same and the rate at which drivers and co-passengers wear a seat belt is 92% and 86%. The children are allowed to seat on the front seat with a child restraint which is applicable for children below 18years of age.
- Bhutan; has laws regarding the same but there is no restriction on children seating on the front seat.
- Brazil; has laws regarding the same and the rate at which drivers and co-passengers wear a seat belt is 79% and 50%. The children who are under 10years of age are prohibited from seating on the front seat of the car.
- Canada; has laws regarding the same and the rate at which the drivers and co-passengers wear a seat belt is 95% and 89%. The children are allowed with restraining on the front seat of the car.
- China; has laws regarding the same and the rate at which the drivers wear a seat belt is 37%. There is no restraint on children.
- Denmark; has laws regarding the same and the rate at which the drivers and co-passengers wear a seat belt is 96% and 91%. The children are allowed with a restraint on the front seat of the car.
- Egypt; has laws regarding the same and the children below 7years of age prohibited from seating on the front seat of the car.
- Finland; has laws regarding the same and the rate at which the driver and co-passenger wear a seat belt is 95% and 85%. The children are allowed to seat on the front seat of the car with restraint.
- Germany; has laws regarding the same and the rate at which the drivers and co-passengers wear a seat belt is 98% and 99%. The children are allowed to sit on the front seat of the car with restraint.
- The United States of America; has laws regarding the same and the rate at which the drivers and co-passengers wear seat-belt is 90% and 75%. The children are allowed to sit on the front seat with restraint.
As the data suggests that some countries have law who follows it vehemently and some countries have less committed followers of the law. There are still a few countries where there is no law regarding wearing a seat-belt and children sitting on the front seat of the car. In India the rate at which the driver and co-passenger wear a seat belt is 14-40% and 4-11%. There is no restriction regarding children sitting on the front seat of the car.
The variation in the rate of the drivers and co-passengers who are sitting next to drivers shows that how much the laws are stringent in the country. The percent rate of India at which drivers and co-passengers are very less and this makes India as the contributor in the whole world’s death rate that is caused by non-wearing of seat-belt.
It is compulsory to wear a seat-belt even if the shortest distance is covered. The laws are made for following it and for our own safety only. And if a child is sitting on the front seat of the car then the guardian must make sure that the child is being restrained.
Edited by Pushpamrita Roy
Approved & Published – Sakshi Raje