Following the recent death of former Tata Group Chairman Cyrus Mistry in a road accident, Union road transport minister Nitin Gadkari said on September 6 that seat belt alarm will be made mandatory for rear seats of vehicles too. Mistry was killed in a road accident when he was on his way to Mumbai from Ahmedabad. He was travelling in a Mercedes with three others. Mistry and his co-passenger—both of who were killed on the spot—were seated in the rear of the car and did not have their seat belts on.
Currently, the seat belt ‘reminder’ is mandatory only for the driver and the front seat passenger. “We’ll come out with a notification on this in the next couple of days,” Gadkari said.
Wearing rear seat belts has been mandatory since October 2002. The ‘alarm’ feature has been mandatory for front seat occupants since July 2019.
While there is a provision of a Rs 1,000 penalty (according to the amended Motor Vehicle Act) for not wearing seat belts in the rear, there is hardly any compliance. The government is also considering making the provision of six airbags mandatory in all cars. Airbags, however, are not effective if the occupants are not wearing seatbelts.
Gadkari said, “There is no respect for law and no fear as well. It’s a precarious situation. I appeal to people to follow rules for their own safety. I am sure the IT-based enforcement can improve the compliance.” The minister also said that the government is considering making the seat belt feature mandatory for intercity buses.