REAR SEAT BELT – An often neglected, yet highly effective LIFE SAVER

 In Blog, Safety

Epidemic of road crash fatalities – Time to act!

 More than 1.35 million people lose their lives each year globally due to road traffic injuries. However, the amount of road crash deaths is disproportionately high among low and middle-income countries. According to the WHO Global Status Report on Road Safety 2018, road crashes are a major cause of death amongst young adults and children between the age group of 5-29 years. They impact not only the society but also the economy of a country in multiple ways. The current scenario in India is nothing short of an epidemic. 1.3 Million people lost their lives and another 5 Million were injured in road crashes over the last decade. Moreover, with around 1.5 lakh people losing their lives in road crashes in the country every year, India has one of the highest road crash injuries and deaths in the world.


This high rate of road crash mortality lays emphasis on certain contributing key risk factors for road crashes, not using seatbelts being one such factor. 26,896 unbelted vehicle occupants died on Indian roads in 2017. While more & more people seated in the front row, have now started wearing seatbelts, a very small fraction of people (4%) wear seatbelts in the rear seats in our country. A report was prepared by WHO after interviewing people in 11 cities including various major cities in India. The survey said that usage of rear seat belts was very low despite over 70% of people knowing about their presence.  According to WHO, use of the rear seatbelt reduces the probability of being killed by 25% and injured by 75%. Although India has a law mandating the use of rear seatbelts for all vehicles, awareness, and enforcement around it is negligible.

The Central Motor Vehicles Rules under the Motor Vehicles Act, 1988 mandate manufacturers to produce vehicles which are equipped with seatbelts for the driver, front passenger seat as well as front facing rear seats. Under Section 138 (3), Central Motor Vehicles Rules also mandate the use of rear seatbelts.

Effects of being unbelted during a collision

When a vehicle hits another object such as a tree or another vehicle, in the brief fractions of a second it takes for the car to crumple and come to a stop, any unbelted occupants get thrown forward, since inside they are still traveling at the same speed the car was going before the crash. The unrestrained occupant will hit the interiors or other passengers, easily leading to severe injuries to brain, organ or bones. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), this internal impact is the most common cause of road crash injuries and can be prevented if proper restraints are used. The seatbelt allows for a controlled deceleration of the occupant, helps to avoid hard contact to the interior, and prevents the occupant being thrown out of the car. The occupant’s energy is absorbed by the seat belt, holding the body where loads can be withstood the best: the hipbones, chest and shoulders.

Any unbelted vehicle occupant has an increased injury and fatality risk, no matter whether sitting in the front or the rear of a car. An unrestrained rear seat passenger in addition causes a peril to the life of a front seat passenger, increasing their fatality risk by 50%. Many of you may remember the Jaspal Bhatti case of a few years back. Bhatti, a well-known comedian, died after his car crashed into a tree. He was in the rear seat, unbelted. Wearing the seatbelt might have saved his life, as his son Jasraj, who was at the wheel and buckled up, survived the accident. There are numerous such known examples in India and worldwide.

 Steps towards Safety

Lately, the Global NCAP has been very active in building awareness in India for safety.  Indian car makers like Tata Motors and Mahindra are now emphatically advertising their new models tested and given 5 Star safety ratings by Global NCAP.  As the star safety ratings are only applicable to belted vehicle occupants, the NCAP organisations have decided to include into their ratings a technology helping to increase seat belt wearing rates: The Seat Belt Reminder (SBR). All worldwide NCAP programs award audio visual SBR systems for the front seats, and several of them have already started to also award advanced SBRs on the rear seats, triggering an audio-visual warning at the start of the journey. The advanced warning function is enabled by occupant detection in the front passenger seat and the rear seats.

Occupant Detection Solutions for front & rear SBR by IEE

  IEE has been developing and manufacturing innovative and cutting-edge automotive sensing solutions for more than 25 years. IEE is a global leader in Occupant Detection Sensing for Seat-Belt Reminder systems, working closely with car makers around the world and has equipped more than 400 million vehicles worldwide with solutions to either detect occupants or classify them.

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