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NEW DELHI: Only one in every four car occupants use seatbelts and those living in the south of the country are the most reluctant to use this life-saving technology, a survey conducted by an automobile major has found.
The survey also reveals the share of women drivers skipping this mandatory rule while driving is higher at 81% in comparison to their male counterparts at 68%.
The “Seatbelt Use in India” survey conducted by Maruti Suzuki India across 17 cities in all regions covering over 2,500 drivers and passengers indicates that only strict enforcement can make more people wear their seatbelts with 80% respondents saying it was the fear of police action and fines which motivated them to wear seatbelts.
Contrary to perceptions that more people in Delhi-NCR are strapping themselves to their seats because of stringent enforcement, the survey has found that the share of drivers using this safety feature is lower than even neighbouring Meerut.
The survey results are significant considering at least 15 people died (5,638 in 2016) in road accidents because of not wearing seatbelts.
According to global studies, wearing of seatbelts reduces risk of death by 45% and cut risks of serious injury by 50%. Moreover, people not wearing seatbelts are 30 times more likely to be thrown out of a vehicle in a crash.
In a heartening trend, 90% of drivers in Nagpur and over 80% in Jaipur and Chandigarh use seatbelts according to the survey. On the other hand, not one person surveyed in Coimbatore, the second largest city in Tamil Nadu, said they used seatbelts. Shockingly, Indore in MP and Bengaluru in Karnataka also had very poor levels of compliance.
The report says, southern cities rank worst in seatbelt usage with 89% claiming they never use them, followed by the eastern region at 79%.
According to the report, the usage of seatbelts by passengers sitting on rear seats is alarmingly low at only 4%, the survey has found. One of the reasons found for the death of former Union minister Gopinath Munde in a road accident was his non-usage of the seatbelt when sitting in the rear seat of his car.
So far as the usage of seatbelts by front seat passenger is concerned, Mumbai has the maximum riders adhering to the rule at 78% followed by Jaipur and Chandigarh, the survey has found.
As per the survey report, non-wearing of seatbelts was highest among SUV respondents. Nearly one in every eight such respondents shared they don’t use seatbelts followed by hatchback (72%), sedan (68%) and luxury cars (64%).
“All the multiple airbags in a car are useless, and in fact may cause injuries, if the occupants are not belted up. An airbag may actually be counterproductive and make injury more severe,” C V Raman, head of research and development at Maruti Suzuki said.
The report also reveals how people often offer trivial reasons for not wearing seatbelts such as 25% respondents claiming wearing of seatbelts ruins the creases in their clothes.