Former chairman of Tata Group, Cyrus Mistry, died in a fatal car crash in Maharashtra. The incident occurred when Mistry was traveling in his Mercedes car from Ahmedabad to Mumbai.
The impact of the collision was very severe. As per police, the passengers in the front had their seatbelts on while the rear passengers, which included Mistry, did not. This is believed to be the reason why airbags at the front got activated but did not at the back. The unfortunate incident posed itself as a reminder of how important seatbelts are while travelling in a vehicle.
Wearing a seatbelt is the first and foremost factor that ensures your safety while driving a car. In case of a life-threatening accident, it is the seat belt that helps to curb the impact of the crash on the passengers as much as possible.
According to data released by the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) on the ‘Accidental Deaths & Suicides in India’, more than 1.55 lakh lives have been claimed by road accidents in 2021. This means that an average of 426 people daily and 18 every hour die in road crashes.
In 2017, the Road Transport Ministry, while answering questions asked in Parliament, said that 26,896 people had died due to not wearing seatbelts. Of these, 16,876 were found to be passengers. However, the ministry did not provide data on deaths due to the non-usage of seatbelts by rear passengers.
In India, the law mandates passengers travelling in a vehicle to wear seatbelts. As per Rule 138 (3) of the Central Motor Vehicle Rules (CMVR) “driver, and the person seated in the front seat or the persons occupying front facing rear seats” must wear seatbelts while the vehicle is in motion.
While not wearing seatbelt can attract fines, many still flout the rule. According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), wearing a seatbelt reduces the risk of death among drivers in a road accident by 40 to 50 percent and risk of death and severe injuries by 25 percent in rear seat occupants.
The seatbelts in a car work around a concept called Inertia. While a car is moving, the body of the passenger also attains the same speed. During a sudden interruption in the movement, the vehicle, the body, due to the inertia, tends to attain the same speed and movement. This causes the body to get thrown in the front with great force. The impact can severely injure the head, ribs and spine.
Here comes the role of the seatbelt. This protective gear helps break the inertia of the body and saves it from getting in contact with the frontal part of the vehicle. When combined with airbags, the possibility of passengers’ lives being saved from a fatal crash increases.
In February this year, the Ministry of Road Transport and Highways made it mandatory for front-facing seats to have a Y-shaped seatbelt affixed to them. This came as an amendment to the Rule 138 (3) of the Central Motor Vehicle Rules.
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