Nissan Road Safety Campaign: Promoting rear seat belts, educating school kids about traffic rules

We got in a conversation with Abhishek Mahapatra, VP, Communications & CSR, Nissan, to better understand the outreach of the campaign & challenges that stand before optimum use of safety features as basic as a three-point seat belt.

By: | Updated: September 30, 2019 1:23 PM
rear seal belt nissan road safety For representational purpose only

Nissan India's ongoing road safety campaign is bringing the use of rear seat belts in passenger cars in the spotlight through some intriguing initiatives and educating school children on their importance. Nissan say that their campaign called HaveYouClickedToday has reached out 4 million Indians and has brought about a change ensuring equal importance is given to the rule that all passengers must wear a seat belt. We got in a conversation with Abhishek Mahapatra, VP, Communications & CSR, Nissan Motor India, to better understand the outreach of the campaign and the challenges that stand before optimum use of safety features as basic as a three-point seat belt.

What do you have to say about the recent Motor Vehicle Amendment (MVA) Bill?

MVA Bill covers much-needed amendments required to improve road safety and usher in use of technology to improve the systems and overall infrastructure. From tightening of rules, increasing penalties as well as doing away with excessive regulations, it presents a humane face to those who help road accident victims and offers considerable protection to them.

Nissan launched its road safety campaign #HaveYouClickedToday, aimed at enhancing road-safety by advocating the use of rear seat belts. Till date, we have spread the message to over 4 million Indians. We recognise that our campaign played an important role in ensuring equal importance is given to the rule that all passengers must wear a seat belt and this bill is a strong testimony to our strategic outreach.

Tell us about more about your campaign on road safety?

Nissan’s corporate vision is “Enriching People’s Lives”, and our CSR strategy in India is focused on two key pillars – Safety and Environment. At our sales and marketing entity (NMIPL), our CSR initiative focal point is on Road Safety, while for the alliance manufacturing entity (RNAIPL) we strategically work on the Environment and Community.

nissan india Abhishek Mahapatra VP Comms and CSR

As responsible stakeholders in India’s mobility sector, we are focused on addressing the issue of road safety in India. With 17 deaths and 53 crashes every hour (source: MoRTH), the situation is alarming. Seat belt is recognized as one of the most effective car features to reduce the severity during a road crash, and the role of the rear seat belt in accident safety can never be over-emphasized. While there has been some outreach around seat belts, the discourse around rear seat belts in India has never been undertaken.

In Phase 1 of the campaign, we partnered with SaveLIFE Foundation and commissioned India’s first survey across 11 cities with over 6,300 respondents to understand awareness and usage of the rear seat belt. The survey was acknowledged and released by Minister for Road Transport & Highways Nitin Gadkari in January 2019. Our insights from the survey led us to craft a consumer campaign through a strong data-led intervention.

For example, one of the insights shared that 1 in 5 people did not wear rear seat belts since it crumples their clothes or makes them uncomfortable. To help people ride over this reason/excuse, we reached out to ace Bollywood designer Kunal Rawal. With him, we conceived the Nissan SBS – Nissan Seat Belt Shirt to persuade people to give up this logic and buckle up without having to worry about the appearance or their clothes. Nissan SBS is a wrinkle-resistant shirt that combines style and quality. compromising on their safety.

In Phase 2 of our campaign, we commenced on a long term sustainable school outreach program across 12 cities at 240 schools in India, targeting 240,000 kids. We firmly believe that children are the most important audience to adopt safety measures while travelling and are themselves active catalyst to spread awareness about safety. Our school outreach is ongoing, and till date, we have covered 200 schools and 200,000 kids.

Despite its importance, why do you think people do not wear a seat belt?

To understand the status of usage, awareness, and adoption of seat belts, Nissan India commissioned India’s first-ever survey on rear seat belts with over 6,300 respondents across 11 cities in India. Robust sampling design was created to ensure a universally representative coverage.

The survey served as the starting point for a data-led intervention that combines public awareness and policy-led action to strengthen national road safety. The recently proposed MVA Bill in the Rajya Sabha incorporated a strong penalty for not wearing seat belts for all passengers in a car.

Key findings of the study:

Despite high awareness, the rear seat belt is not worn by a majority (93%) of Indians; although over 70 percent of people were aware of rear seat belts, only 7% claimed to use it regularly

A majority of citizens are not even aware of a law mandating the use of the rear seat belt

91% of people surveyed reported that the police had never stopped them for non-use of rear seat belts

Over 90 percent of Indians are risking their safety by not using a rear seat belt while commuting

A total of one-fifth of all Indians choose to not wear rear seat belts in their cars due to discomfort and the risk of creasing or ruining their clothes

The study also found that over 9 out of 10 children who sit in the rear seat neither use a rear seat belt nor a child seat.

Many parents and policemen were also found to be aiding underage driving by turning a blind eye to the act. Over half the parents surveyed admitted to having seen their underage adolescent children driving; close to two-thirds did not stop them from driving

The above findings put up a strong case for a comprehensive National Road Safety law to bridge the road safety policy-implementation gap and build a robust traffic police enforcement mechanism for better compliance.

Do you believe that seat belts alone will save lives?

The fact that the rear seat belt is not worn by 93% of Indians is itself very alarming. Increasing rear seat belt’s awareness and adoption would certainly reduce the risk of injuries. Considering that seat belts are one of the most effective car features to reduce the severity of road crash injury, it is imperative for us to encourage people towards seat belt usage. As a responsible stakeholder in India’s mobility sector, we will keep working towards the social dimension of ‘Enriching People’s Lives’ via various interventions.

What is being highlighted in this campaign to the students in order to communicate about road safety?

In partnership with School Health Annual Report Programme (SHARP) NGO, the program aims to educate children on the importance of road safety and rear seat belt use. Starting with a pre-test that evaluates children’s’ awareness levels about road safety, the professional educators engage with students in a detailed session with activities such as screening of a road safety video and group poster-making. Through these activities, students are sensitized about the importance of responsible road safety rules in India.

The interactive session concludes with a post-test analysis wherein children pledge together to buckle up in the rear seat as occupants. Appreciating their participation and to further encourage their seat belt compliance, we are also gifting them customized bumper stickers that serve as a reminder to use seat belts.

In phase I of the campaign, we reached out to students across 12 cities including Delhi NCR, Mumbai, Bangalore, Chandigarh, Kolkata, and others. The aim is to encourage rear seat belt usage through conducting high-impact, interactive activities for the students.

How has the campaign been received from students and the schools? Has there been some reluctance from institutions, or have you received positive responses?

We have received an overwhelmingly positive response from students and schools across India. Schools have been extending their support to educate students on road safety. Nissan has hitherto engaged with over 200,000 students (already) across 12 cities to create awareness on seat belt usage through interactive activities.

We aim to target more schools and students in the new session and at the same time build a sample size of participant whom we can monitor year on year to measure the efficacy of the program and impact it can drive to change habits and mindset.

Road Safety Survey reveals 33% road users unaware of Good Samaritan Law, 37% disregard lane discipline

What is the ultimate goal of the campaign? Can we take examples of other countries with similar demographics?

Along with focusing on rear seat belt adoption, the campaign aims to use social impact to usher in a mindset and behavioral change towards overall road safety. The Nissan-SLF survey findings have evidenced a lack of sensitivity and concern about road safety laws. The report thus builds a strong case for a comprehensive National Road Safety law that can bridge the current road safety policy-implementation gap. We believe we must learn from nations with the best road policies when it comes to Road Safety. Some of the most effective road safety measures implemented globally include awareness campaigns, creating pedestrian crossings and barriers separating cars from bikes, applying stringent fines for violation of road safety rules, promoting pedestrian infrastructure, etc.

Does the construction of vehicles also play a key role along with safety technology? And how does Nissan India's current and upcoming model line-up align with it?

Customer safety is of the utmost importance to Nissan India and lies at the core of the brand’s philosophy. We at Nissan India focus on developing vehicles with safety technology to meet the requirements mandated by the Government of India. Our vehicles meet the required local vehicle regulations in India.

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