New Delhi: A recent study, commissioned by Maruti Suzuki India Limited (MSIL), has found that only 25 per cent Indians wear seat belts when travelling in cars. It also found that use of seat belt is high only in cities where enforcement is stringent.
Conducted across 17 Indian cities, the survey found that despite rising cases of road accident, Indians either forget or choose to ignore seat belts. The reasons assigned for either of the two range from the obvious to the rather bizarre. Participants in the survey who said they don't wear seat belts blamed lack of awareness but a significant number of them also assigned reasons like 'negative impact on image' and 'clothes getting ruined' for snubbing what is an absolutely vital life-saving technology. While 32 per cent of people who don't wear seatbelts said weak law enforcement 'encourages' them to 'drive free', 27 per cent of them said it impacts their image and a significant of 25 per cent said seat belts ruin their clothes. Another 23 per cent did not even consider it as a safety device.
While the World Health Organisation has recognised seat belts as a primary restraint system that can reduce the risk of fatality by up to 60 per cent, Indians are still rather ignorant of its importance. And that can be fatal in a country where, according to data collected by Ministry of Road Transport and Highways, 5638 accident deaths happened last year alone. "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," said Kenichi Ayukawa, MD and CEO, Maruti Suzuki. The company has now begun a social media campaign to increase awareness among Indians.