LIST: 5 Reasons Why Indians Ignore Seatbelts

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The seatbelt often remains unticked in daily commute and travels. In fact, it is safe to say that the seatbelt is largely unacknowledged as a key safety device. In 2016 alone, startling 5,638 lives were claimed as a result of not wearing seatbelts in India (Source: Road Accident Report 2016, MoRTH).

A 17-city survey, undertaken by Maruti Suzuki in association with Kantar Group (Milward Brown & IMRB), revealed that only 25% passenger vehicle occupants wear seat belts. The research with passenger vehicle users (drivers, co-driver seat passenger, rear seat passengers) from different demographics throws light on some interesting behavioral trends for not belting up.

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The top reasons why passenger vehicle drivers do not belt up are:

1. No strict policing:

How many of us are aware that according to a clause in Chapter VI of The Central Motor Vehicles Act 1989, a fine of one thousand rupees can be levied on a driver not wearing seatbelt or carrying passengers not wearing seatbelts in his motor vehicle? 32% drivers cited weak legal enforcement as the key reason for not wearing a seat belt. In most parts of the country, except the driver, no other passenger buckles up. And, generally, that too with a fear of getting caught by the traffic police, and not for personal safety.

2. Personal image over safety:

Wearing a seat belt is ‘shaan ke khilaf’, makes them look like a novice / unconfident driver. 23% respondents said they do not wear seat belt as it negatively impacts their image.

3. Appearance over safety:

You want to wear the seatbelt, but afraid that it might crinkle your crisply ironed white shirt. 22% drivers said they chose not to fasten their seat belts for fear of ruining their clothes.

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4. Airbags, the saviour:

Do airbags make your car completely accident-proof? Absolutely NOT. A seatbelt, being a primary restraint system, is the first line of defense in all types of collisions; whereas airbags are designed to work with seatbelts and not replace them. 19% drivers sighted that they do not consider seatbelt as a significant safety device.

5. Influence from peer groups and family:

It is psychologically proven that we subconsciously imitate our peer group to fit into the social mould. This is amply demonstrated in the fact that 18% drivers follow suit of their friends and family and become suspects to lethal road accidents, which could have been prevented by a simple ‘click’.

How do we rectify this mindset and become more responsible citizens?

Let us make a conscious decision to belt-up, take the onus of educating our fellow commuters on the need for paying attention to this simple safety device and make a start from there. So, next time you travel or drive in a passenger vehicle, do not forget to ask seat belt #PehniKya?

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