The use of seat belts has improved substantially among bus and truck drivers after the new law on traffic violations came into force, according to a survey conducted by NGO Save Life Foundation.
The study was conducted at different sites in two States — at Burari, Bhalswa and Mukundpur in Delhi and Mumbai Pune Expressway and Old Mumbai Pune Highway in Maharashtra. As many as 1,190 vehicles were observed before the implementation of the Act on August 29 and on September 11 a total of 1,294 vehicles were monitored after the rules came into effect.
The findings show that in Delhi there was an 80.5% increase in use of seat belts by bus drivers with 88% of them wearing seatbelts after the implementation of the Motor Vehicles (Amendment) Act, 2019, whereas only 7.5% wore them earlier. Similarly, the use of seatbelts among bus drivers in Mumbai went up by 26%, with 50% of those monitored wearing them instead of a mere 26.5% earlier. About 120 buses were monitored in Delhi and 108 in Mumbai before the study and after the study 105 were observed in Delhi and 110 in Mumbai.
There is a remarkable improvement among truck drivers, too, with 27.7% increase in their use in Delhi and 21% in Mumbai. A total of 92 trucks before the new rules and 105 trucks after were observed in Delhi, where 127 trucks were monitored before and after implementation of the rules.
Light motor vehicles
Seat belt compliance improved by 17.8% for light motor vehicles in Delhi, while for Mumbai it improved by 1 percentage point.
As per the amended Act, the fine for not wearing seat belts has increased from ₹100-₹300 to ₹1,000 with effect from September 1.
These findings for heavy vehicles stood out among other offences which were monitored including non-usage of helmets, not providing passage to emergency vehicles, load protrusion and overloading for two-wheelers, buses, trucks and light motor vehicles.
According to government data on road accidents for 2017, trucks (along with tempos and tractors) and buses together accounted for nearly 27% of crashes or 1,24,000 of the total 4,60,000 accidents.
While seat belts don’t avert accidents, their use helps in mitigating fatalities and serious injuries. According to a forensic examination of 500 crashes conducted by the Road Safety Foundation, nearly 33% of deaths were caused due to seat belts not being worn by road users.