Why people in India don’t use seat belts and the illogical and thought-provoking reasons behind it

In the second article of our safety series, we take a look at the reasons why a particular section of Indians do not wear seat belts and some of the logics are just plain stupid and weird.

By: | Updated: November 28, 2017 6:06 PM

India, one of the biggest economies in the world has a large number of vehicles running on the roads and many are finding new homes every day. The second most populated country also witnesses a lot of accidents daily that claims the highest number of road fatalities in the world. While most casualties are caused to two-wheeler riders and pedestrians, the number of car occupants in fatal crashes too is going up. The reason for more people dying in a metal box on wheels is quite simple as they aren't buckling up or wearing seat belts. Despite such scary statistics, people can be seen driving without their seat belt on and this ignorant nature not only puts an individual to risk but also endangers his/ her family. In order to make you aware of the serious situation, an average of 15 deaths occur daily for not wearing seat belt according to a report issued by MORTH (Ministry of Road Transport and Highways) in 2016. This is an alarming number as to how easily human lives can be lost by not just a simple buckle up. Despite the fact that wearing a seatbelt is compulsory under the law, people choose not to wear it. So, why do some individuals risk their lives despite knowing the repercussions? We have the answers and while some of these reasons are plain stupid, a few do call for introspection within our present system.

The findings in a study by Kantar Group and Maruti Suzuki show that the maximum number of people do not wear seat belt due to the weak law enforcement and the figure is 32%. This is a serious issue and authorities should look at improving the law enforcement in order to save lives. There are some strange and funny reasons too as some people think that wearing a seat belt might ruin their clothes while many have this perception that buckling up affects their image negatively. Sadly, there are also those people claiming that wearing a seat belt is uneasy and as they have never seen an accident where a seat belt was helpful, they decide that the safety equipment is good for nothing.

The above data was all about the philosophy of the person driving the vehicle. The numbers for the co-drivers not wearing a seat belt were even more disturbing. Weak legal enforcement was the top reason again making 30% people not choosing to buckle up. The number of people not wearing a seatbelt was the highest in tier-II cities at 87% followed by Tier-I cities with 69% and last came metros with 50%. This clearly shows how the weak legal enforcement in smaller towns and cities along with the lack of awareness make the people go casual about their own safety.

Zone wise, South Indians ignore seat belt the most and number for co-drivers not wearing it is a whopping 85%. In comparison, the eastern part of India has a slightly better record at 79% while west and north account for 60% and 51% respectively. The research further adds that the co-drivers travelling in an SUV are mostly the ones that do not like wearing a seatbelt, while those in luxury cars prefer it the most.

Also Read: Seat Belts: Lesser South Indians wear seat belts than North Indians, resulting in higher death rate

Aware of all this, Maruti Suzuki has recently started a campaign that goes by the name #PehniKya? The leading car maker commissioned a survey on seat belts and the results were really disappointing. The survey was conducted in a total of 17 Indian cities and only 25% people were found to be wearing seat belts on a regular basis. Regarding this, Kenichi Ayukawa, who is the Managing Director & CEO at Maruti Suzuki said, “The Indian Government is taking several measures to bring down accident fatalities and make roads safer for vehicle occupants and pedestrians. We support these efforts. Seat belt is a primary safety system in a car and several studies show that its regular use can bring down injuries and fatalities in road accidents.  Through our social campaign, PehniKya, we want to persuade car users to follow this simple safety step.Based on the findings of our research, we believe that an effective communication campaign across platforms, together with strict enforcement, will convince car users to make seat belt use a habit and support the government’s efforts for road safety.”

We at Express Drives take safety very seriously and hence, urge our readers to always wear a seat belt while driving. As someone has rightly said - "When you gamble with safety, you bet your life."

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