Two days after industrialist Cyrus Mistry was killed in a car crash, Road Transport and Highways Minister Nitin Gadkari said Tuesday that seat belt alarms for those on rear seats will now be a permanent feature in all four-wheelers. A draft notification will be issued soon, proposing to make this a mandatory feature in all cars manufactured after the new directive is notified.
Car manufacturers will be given a lead time by which they will have to get their affairs in order for compliance in future cars.
“Because of the Cyrus incident, we have taken the decision that all cars will have to have the alarm for seat belts, even the rear ones. The order will be issued in the next few days,” Gadkari told reporters.
A provision to penalise rear seat passengers for not wearing seat belts is already present in the Motor Vehicles Act, 2019. Officials said the alarm rule will make it inconvenient for rear seat passengers to ignore seat belts.
Car sensors are installed in such a way that if the seat belt clip or the buckle is not fastened then the alarm goes off.
Gadkari said that many people, in order to rig the system, attach just the clip, purchased from outside, without the belt. “We have also made a move to get the manufacture and sale of those clips declared illegal by the Consumer Affairs Ministry,” he said.
He said the Ministry is also mulling a move to make seat belts mandatory for passengers in inter-city buses to begin with.
The government, Gadkari said, is aiming to make it mandatory for eight-seater cars to have at least six airbags in cars manufactured after October 1 this year. A draft notification in this regard was already issued in January. Airbags are more effective if passengers fasten their seat belts.
Gadkari will be chairing a meeting of the Transport Development Council, which has representation from all states, on September 8 in Bengaluru.
“I will raise the issues of speed limits and other enforcement matters there,” he said, adding that he will also raise the matter of capping volumes of vehicle horns to 70 decibel. “Also, I feel there could be sweet-sounding horns.”
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Road safety activists welcomed the move for the rear seat belt alarm.
“In about 35 per cent of the accident deaths, the cause we find is non-usage of seat belts, especially rear seat belts. The alarm is a welcome step, as seat belts stop collision of passengers within the interiors of the car and also ejection in the event of an accident. We are hopeful that the automobile industry will also welcome this move,” said Piyush Tewary of NGO SaveLIFE Foundation which collaborates with states as well as Gadkari’s ministry on road safety matters.
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