More than 90% risk their safety by not using rear seat-belts: Study

New Delhi: A new research has brought attention to the startling number of Indians compromising their safety by not using rear-seat belts.

Released today by Nitin Gadkari, Union Minister for Road Transport & Highways, the study by NissanIndia and SaveLIFE Foundation found that over 90 percent respondents reported not using a rear seat-belt, thereby risking their safety.

This was further confirmed through an observational survey – conducted at strategic locations in Delhi, Mumbai, Bengaluru, Jaipur, Kolkata, and Lucknow – revealing that 98 percent respondents were in fact not using their rear-seat belt. Usage of rear seat-belts is very low despite over 70 percent of people affirming to the presence of rear seat-belts.

The study also focused on the safety of children during commute and revealed that two thirds of respondents believed that Indian roads are unsafe for children. The report also revealed that despite 92.8 percent respondents reported being aware of the safety benefits of child helmets, only 20.1 percent respondents owned a child helmet. This becomes especially relevant in light of the latest data released by Ministry of Road Transport and Highways (MoRTH), according to which 9,408 children lost their lives to road crashes in year 2017 alone. This translates to nearly 26 child deaths on Indian roads every day.

With its findings, the report also builds a strong case for a comprehensive national Road Safety law, or the passage of Motor Vehicles Amendment Bill to bridge the policy-implementation gap and build a robust enforcement mechanism for better compliance.

The need for both, better policy awareness and implementation, is evident in the report’s findings; only 27.7 percent of respondents were aware that rear seat-belt usage is already mandated under the current law in India. Further, 91.4 percent of respondents felt the need for a strong child road safety law in India.

Speaking at the launch of the report, Nitin Gadkari said, “As India continues on its trajectory of rapid infrastructure growth, the role of road safety acquires immense importance. Through a combination of policy and awareness creation measures, the government has given road safety the critical importance it deserves. I would like to laud this initiative, and the willingness of corporate India and civil society to work together to make road safety a people’s movement.”

While talking about the importance of the report, Thomas Kuehl, President, Nissan India Operations, said, “While there have been various initiatives undertaken to raise awareness around road safety in India, the importance of wearing rear seat belts has been completely neglected.”