In order to reduce road accident fatalities, the central government has notified draft amendments to make it mandatory for car makers to install an alarm system for rear passenger seat belts, as per a draft notification by the Ministry of Road Transport and Highways (MORTH) of India.
The last date for public comments on the draft amendments to Automotive Industry Standard, AIS-145, additional safety features for category 'M' & 'N' Vehicles is October 5, 2022.
It is pertinent to note that vehicles that belong to category 'M' or 'N' in India are classified as: light-duty vehicles (passenger cars and vans), or heavy-duty vehicles (trucks, buses, and coaches)
The move comes after the recent death of former chairman of Indian conglomerate Tata Sons Cyrus Mistry in a tragic car accident. Reports stated that Mistry was in in the rear seat without wearing a seat belt.
Going forward, seat belt alarm will be mandatory in M and N category vehicles, and vehicles will have audio-video warning if seat belts are not worn. Along with this, over speed alarm will become mandatory, too, the draft notification stated.
Apart from this, the notification added that the following measures will be taken for M1 category vehicles - vehicles that comprise not more than eight seats in addition to the driver's seat:-Speed alert system to alert driver in case of over speeds
-Child safety lock not permitted in M1 category vehicles
For M and N category vehicles, reverse parking alert system will be applicable. The draft notification also said that a three-level alarm system will be implemented to alert riders if travelling without seatbelts:
-First level warning means a visual warning will be activated when the ignition switch is engaged -engine running or not - and the driver's and/or rear seat passengers' safety-belt is not fastened.
-Second level warning means a visual and audible warning will be activated when a driver operates a vehicle without fastening of driver and/or rear seat passenger's safety-belt.
-'Safety-Belt is not fastened' warning will be activated which means, at the option of the manufacturer, either the driver and /or the rear seat passengers’ safety-belt buckle is not engaged or the webbing length pulled out of the retractor is 100 mm or less.
Earlier this month, Minister of Road and Transport Nitin Gadkari announced at an event that previously there was a penalty for not wearing seatbelt for the driver and co-passenger only, but now the law is updated to include rear seat passengers as well. He had also instructed e-commerce players to refrain from selling devices designed to disable car seat belt alarms.
Gadkari said that his ministry is aiming to halve road accidents and related deaths by the end of 2024. The union cabinet minister also said the government is on course to finalize a draft for a mandatory six airbags in all cars this year. He also stated that he plans to strictly enforce this rule and will introduce penalties for non-compliance.
At present, it is mandatory for all vehicle manufacturers to provide seat belt reminders for front-seat passengers.Even though rear seat passengers not wearing a seat belt attracts a fine of Rs 1,000 under Rule 138 (3) of the Central Motor Vehicle Rules (CMVR), most of the people are either unaware of it or just disregard it.