Earlier this month, former Tata Sons chairman Cyrus Mistry was killed in a car accident on the Mumbai-Ahmedabad National Highway, about 110km from Mumbai.
Mistry was seated on the rear seat when the SUV he was traveling in, a Mercedes Benz GLC, hit the railing of a bridge in the Palghar district. Police said Mistry didn’t seem to have had his seat belts on. According to a Times of India report, Mistry, who was seated diagonally across from the driver died on the spot after his head hit the front seat.
After the incident, the government swung into action and issued a draft notification introducing a new set of rules wherein automakers will have to provide seat belt reminders to all the occupants mandatorily. The last date to share comments on the draft is October 5, 2022.
Passengers sitting in the rear seat of a car and not wearing seatbelts might also be fined soon, said Union Transport Minister Nitin Gadkari following the accident of former Tata Sons Chairman near Mumbai.
Seat Belt Rules
Presently, it is mandatory for all vehicle manufacturers to provide seat belt reminders only for front-seat passengers.
As per the draft notification, a speed alert system to alert drivers in case of overspeeding, and seat belt reminders for front and rear seats, among other features would be made mandatory for the carmakers.
Earlier this month, Gadkari directed e-commerce companies to stop selling devices designed to disable car seat belt alarms.
Gadkari said that his ministry aims to halve road accidents and related deaths by the end of 2024, adding the government hoped to finalise a draft for a mandatory six airbags in all cars this year.
Gadkari said he plans to strictly enforce this rule and will introduce penalties for non-compliance.
A rear seat passenger not wearing a seat belt attracts a fine of Rs 1,000 under Rule 138 (3) of the Central Motor Vehicle Rules (CMVR).
According to a recent road ministry report, the number of people killed and injured due to not wearing a seat belt during 2020 stood at 15,146 and 39,102, respectively.
What Does Govt Notification Say About Seat Belt Alarms
According to the draft notification, there will be a 3-level alarm warning:
1) Video warning when the car engine is running and front facing seat occupants’ safety belt is not fastened.
2) Visual and audible warning activated when a driver operates a vehicle without fastening the driver and/or co-drivers front-facing seat occupants’ safety belt.
3) The alarm will continue to ring even if someone unbuckles the seat belt during the journey.
Road Accidents In India
According to National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) data, over 1.55 lakh lives were lost in road crashes across India in 2021 -- an average of 426 daily or 18 every single hour -- which is the highest death figures recorded in any calendar year so far.
A report titled 'Road accidents in India -- 2020' revealed that more than 11 per cent of deaths and injuries were caused due to the non-usage of seat belts. The number of persons killed and injured due to not wearing a seat belt during 2020 stood at 15,146 and 39,102, respectively.
Six Airbags In A Car
Gadkari earlier this month said that the government is trying to make it mandatory for carmakers to provide at least six airbags in eight-seater vehicles from October for enhanced safety of passengers.
Earlier this year, the Ministry of Road Transport and Highways (MoRTH) in a statement said that in order to enhance the safety of occupants of the motor vehicle against lateral impact, it has been decided to enhance safety features by amending the Central Motor Vehicles Rules (CMVR), 1989.
"A draft notification has been issued on January 14, 2022, which mandates that vehicles of category M1, manufactured after October 1, 2022, shall be fitted with two side/side torso air bags, one each for the persons occupying front row outboard seating positions, and two side curtain/tube air bags, one each for the persons occupying outboard seating positions," it had said.