Tata Sons’ former chairman – Cyrus Mistry, succumbed to death after he met a road accident. Mistry was travelling in his SUV occupying the rear seat, along with his friend Jahangir Pandole. However, reports confirm that Cyrus Mistry was not wearing a seat belt, and the application of which could have saved his life. Also, reports claim that he would’ve been thrown into the seat back of the front seat with great velocity as the SUV would have lost momentum after hitting the divider. Both Mistry and Pandole could not survive the accident, and the avoidance of seat belt’s application is said to be the reason for their death as per experts.
Although not wearing a seat belt by passengers sitting in the rear seats attracts a fine of Rs 1,000 under Rule 138 (3) of the Central Motor Vehicle Rules (CMVR), most people are either unaware of this mandatory rule or just ignore them. Even traffic policemen seldom fine passengers sitting on rear seats for not wearing seat belts.
President Emeritus at International Road Federation KK Kapila said the practice of fastening seat belts in the rear seat is very low even in big cities and metros and near-zero in the mid to smaller cities of India.
As per the preliminary probe, Mistry was not wearing the seat belt and over-speeding and the “error of judgement” by the driver caused the accident.
The government has been taking measures to enhance the safety of occupants of motor vehicles and now it intends to make it mandatory for carmakers to provide a minimum of six airbags in motor vehicles that can carry up to 8 passengers for enhanced safety of occupants from October this year.
An airbag is a vehicle occupant-restraint system, which interferes between the driver and the vehicle’s dashboard during a collision, thereby preventing serious injuries.
Union Road Transport and Highways Minister Nitin Gadkari in an interview with PTI last year said the government will introduce a minimum of six airbags in motor vehicles that can carry up to 8 passengers, despite opposition by the automobile industry.
Gadkari had said aid small cars, mostly purchased by lower middle-class people, should also have an adequate number of airbags and had wondered why automakers are providing eight airbags only in big cars bought by rich people.
“Mostly, lower-middle-class people buy small economy cars and if their car won’t have airbags and when accidents happen, then it may result in deaths. So, I appeal to all car manufacturers to provide a minimum of six airbags across all variants and segments of the vehicle,” he had said.
Earlier this year, to enhance the safety of occupants in motor vehicles, Gadkari had said the government has made it mandatory for automakers to provide three-point seat belts for all front-facing passengers in a car.
The norm will also be applicable for the middle seat in the rear row of a car, he had added.
Since overspeeding continues to be one of the biggest killers on Indian roads, the government has also imposed different speed limits for different categories of roads.
At present, the maximum speed limit notified by the road transport ministry is 100 kmph on national highways for cars and 120 kmph on expressways.
According to National Crime Records Bureau data under the ‘Accidental Deaths & Suicides in India – 2021’, a majority (59.7 per cent) of the road accidents were due to over-speeding, accounting for 87,050 deaths and injuries to 2.28 lakh persons.
While over 1.55 lakh lives were lost in road crashes across India in 2021, dangerous or careless driving or overtaking contributed to 25.7 per cent of road accidents that caused 42,853 deaths and injuries to 91,893 persons, it added.
National Road Safety Council member Kamal Soi said India has sufficient road safety standards to ensure road safety on roads, the problem is the enforcement of those standards.
“There is massive corruption in road construction, which leads to poor unsafe roads leading to many accidents and deaths,” he added.
With inputs from PTI