Union Minister of Road Transport and Highways Nitin Gadkari on Tuesday, 6 September, said that seat belts will be mandatory for all passengers sitting in a vehicle, even those sitting in the back seat.
His comments come two days after Cyrus Mistry died in a car crash near Mumbai. According to reports, the former Tata Group chairman was sitting in the back seat and not wearing a seat belt when his Mercedes crashed into a divider in the Palghar district of Maharashtra.
Here's all you need to know about Gadkari's remarks.
What did Nitin Gadkari say about seat belts?
Addressing a media event, Nitin Gadkari said that those not wearing seat belts in the back will be subject to a fine.
"After the death of Cyrus Mistry, today the government has taken a big decision for the safety of the backseat passengers. A seat belt is required for the back seat," Nitin Gadkari said.
He also announced that the government is going to make it mandatory for automakers to introduce a seat belt alarm system for rear seats. Presently, it is mandatory for all vehicle manufacturers to provide seat belt reminders only for front-seat passengers.
“Earlier, there was a penalty for not wearing a seat belt for the driver and co-passenger only, but we have updated the law to include rear seat passengers as well.”
What are the existing rules for backseat seat belts?
In India, it has been mandatory for rear-seat passengers in cars to wear seat belts for the last 30 years.
The Motor Vehicle Act, 1988, states that wherever seat belts are provided, “it shall be ensured that the driver, and the person seated in the front seat or the persons occupying front facing rear seats, as the case may be, wear the seat belts while the vehicle is in motion”.
Not wearing a seat belt in the rear seats attracts a fine of Rs 1,000 under Rule 138 (3) of the Central Motor Vehicle Rules (CMVR).
However, most people are either unaware of this mandatory rule or just ignore it. Enforcement of the same is also often relaxed – only the driver and co-passenger wear a seat belt usually to avoid a fine.
How much will the fine be?
Under current rules, not wearing a seat belt in the rear seats attracts a fine of Rs 1,000 under Rule 138 (3) of the Central Motor Vehicle Rules (CMVR).
It is uncertain if this amount will be changed.
When will the notification be out?
The minister said that the government will release an official notification in the coming three days detailing the penalty.
"We will issue a draft notification in 3-4 days (for making it mandatory for automakers to introduce a seat belt alarm system for rear seats)," Gadkari said.
Not wearing a seat belt – how dangerous is it?
The number of persons killed and injured due to not wearing a seat belt during 2020 stood at 15,146 and 39,102, respectively, according to a road ministry report.
A 2019 research conducted by Nissan India and SaveLIFE Foundation found that only 7 percent of rear-seat passengers wear seat belts across 11 major Indian cities.
(With inputs from PTI.)