Traveling in a car? Buckle up to double up on safety.
Recently, Union transport minister, Nitin Gadkari announced that the rear passengers of a car also need to wear seatbelts to avoid paying hefty fines. While more news is awaited as to the exact penalties, it has sparked a debate on the importance of wearing a seat-belt at all times while in the car.
So, if you think this rule is an unnecessary inconvenience, let's look at the big picture.
What the numbers say
Every day, hundreds of people die on the road from the negligence of not wearing a seatbelt. This 47mm seatbelt strap may feel uncomfortable or restrictive, but it saves your body from critical impact in case of a car crash. In this article, we will explore the importance of wearing a seatbelt in a moving vehicle.
In India, road accidents are a major cause of death. In 2021, more than 1.55 lakh lives were lost in road crashes across India. That's an average of 426 deaths daily or 18 every single hour. According to official data, this is the highest death figure recorded in any calendar year so far 1.
The law, and the reality
The law requires you to wear a seatbelt when you are in a moving vehicle in India, which applies to rear-seat passengers as well and can attract a fine of ₹1000. According to a study conducted by SaveLife Foundation across 11 cities and 6,306 respondents, only 7% said they used rear seatbelts.
On top of that, people go to great lengths to evade wearing seatbelts. For instance, to bypass the car alarm that typically keeps pinging when seatbelts are not in use, people use metal clips that are available online . The government has directed online sellers to stop selling such devices designed to disable car seatbelt alarms. India is also planning to make it mandatory for car makers to build rear seatbelt alarms too.
The science behind seatbelt safety
To put it in simple terms, the moment you buckle up your seatbelt when riding in the front/rear seat, you automatically reduce the risk of a fatal injury in a crash by 50%.
Here's how that works - In an accident, the body may experience multiple times the g-force in a very short span of time. For context, 1g is equal to the earth's gravitational pull. If a 160lb person is travelling in a car going just 30 miles an hour, a front-end collision with a fixed object can result in 30g of force acting on the body in a couple of seconds. Without a seatbelt, that would increase to 150g.
Thus we see that the force exerted gets multiplied 5 times, just by not wearing a seatbelt. This can be the difference in survival as it may cushion the blow or prevent you from colliding with interiors, the dashboard, or crashing into the windshield. In cases of a roll-over, a seatbelt can help avoid concussions and severe trauma, by helping you stay fixed to your seat.
While modern cars are equipped with devices to absorb much of the impact through air bags, automatic braking systems and others, it has been seen that not wearing seat belt during collisions generally lead to serious or fatal injuries.
While securing seatbelts is just one safety procedure that should be followed, there are several other safety measures you should follow while driving. Road safety is our collective responsibility and as one of India’s leading car leasing companies, ALD Automotive India has partnered with United Way Mumbai to support their initiative ‘United for Road Safety’, which is a community impact initiative which aims to address various aspects related to the promotion of road safety in Mumbai.