Cyrus Mistry death: Are rear seatbelts mandatory by law? Here's a quick check
The spotlight is firmly on the use of seatbelts, especially for rear-seat passengers, in cars plying on Indian roads after the tragic death of former Chairman of Tata Motors Cyrus Mistry. Initial investigation into the accident has revealed that Mistry was seated in the back of the Mercedes-Benz GLC SUV and that he was not wearing a seatbelt. His fellow passenger Jehangir Pandole also died in the unfortunate accident and he too was not wearing a seatbelt, as per police officials.
The tragic accident has raised the very pertinent question about in-car safety measures - the awareness and compliance. Seatbelts are absolutely essential in providing the biggest - and often first - safety cover to passengers in case of a motor accident and wearing these are mandatory by law. Rule 138 (3) of the Central Motor Vehicle Rules (CMVR) mandates that people “seated in the front seat or the persons occupying front facing rear seats" must wear seatbelts.
But while enforcement for front seat belts is usually strict, the same is not the case for passengers at the back and without seatbelts. Numerous studies - in India and across the world - have shown that wearing rear seatbelts either prevents injury or at least brings down the severity of impact. According to WHO, rear seatbelts can even prevent fatalities by 25 per cent.
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But issues like awareness, compliance and even enforcement are all stumbling blocks. Traffic police departments often claim a certain sense of resistance from passengers at the back when asked to buckle up. Most are even unaware that it is mandated by law, let alone the safety benefits.
As such and in the backdrop of Cyrus Mistry's death, there has been talk of airbags and radar-based accident mitigation systems even though the use of rear seatbelts remains as important as ever.