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Cyrus Mistry Death: Wear a seatbelt even when you're in the back seat of a car

Varsha Vats
Varsha VatsSep 05, 2022 | 14:22

Cyrus Mistry Death: Wear a seatbelt even when you're in the back seat of a car

Cyrus Mistry. Photo: Getty Images

Former Tata Sons Chairman Cyrus Mistry died in a tragic car accident on September 4. Mistry was travelling from Udwada in Gujarat to Mumbai with 3 family friends, Jehangir Pandole, Anahita Pandole and Darius Pandole. Mistry was in the back seat, and did not have his seat belt on.

What happened: The accident took place around 3 pm on Sunday. Investigations so far have revealed that he was in the back seat of the car during the accident and was not wearing a seat belt. Jehangir Pandole, who was also in the back seat along with Cyrus, did not survive the accident either. The other two people, Anahita and Darius, are severely injured and currently in hospital.

Mistry and the Pandoles were travelling in a Mercedes GLC-SUV, a high-end luxury car that was equipped with airbags for both front and rear seats. However, the curtain airbags in the back seat failed to open, and led to Cyrus and Jahangir’s death.

Cyrus Mistry. Photo: Reuters

Concerns over road safety: After the incident, Geneva-based International Road Federation (IRF) also shared concerns over increasing road accidents.

“We condole the untimely demise of Cyrus Mistry. But we would also like to draw Union and state governments' attention towards the increasing number of fatal road accidents in the country,” KK Kapila, President Emeritus at IRF, said.

The federation also shared some statistics on road accident deaths in India:

  • India accounts for more than 11 per cent of the road accident deaths worldwide, with 426 lives lost every day and 18 per hour. 
  • More than 1.6 lakh people died in road accidents in 2021.

The IRF has also mentioned that most road accident deaths are avoidable.

Is the back seat more dangerous? In 2019, a study conducted by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) explained that passengers travelling in the back seat are at a higher risk of injuries due to an imbalance in restraint systems (the seat belts and airbags).

The study stressed on how safety measures for the front seat passenger have advanced over the years, while back-seat safety is still lagging. It analysed data from 117 crashes in which passengers in the back seat were either killed or severely injured.

“Front-seat occupants have benefited greatly from advancements in restraints — the umbrella term for airbags and seat belts, which work together during a crash to keep a person in the proper position and manage forces on the body. Back-seat occupants haven't benefited from this technology to the same extent,” the study mentioned.

Back seats can be more dangerous than the front seat in car crashes. Representative Image: Pexels

What are the rules in India?

In India, people wearing seat belts is a rare sight. If you spot a few following all the traffic rules, then it is probably to save their pockets from a potential hole. But there is a rule for back seat passengers too, and surprisingly, not many know this.

Passengers in the rear seats (back seat) are also supposed to wear seat belts. As stated in Rule 138 (3) of the Central Motor Vehicle Rules (CMVR), “The driver and the person seated in the front seat or the persons occupying front facing rear seats, as the case may be, wear the seat belts while the vehicle is in motion. Failure to do so can result in a fine of Rs 1,000.”

The driver and the person seated in the front seat or the persons occupying front facing rear seats, as the case may be, wear the seat belts while the vehicle is in motion. Failure to do so can result in a fine of Rs 1,000.
- Rule 138 (3), Central Motor Vehicle Rules

The rule aims to reduce the chances of fatalities and injuries in an accident. WHO has also focused on the importance of following road safety rules. A WHO report states that: wearing a seatbelt reduces

  • the risk of death among drivers and front seat occupants by 45 - 50%,
  • and the risk of death and serious injuries among rear seat occupants by 25%

What are the loopholes? Lack of awareness about: a) importance of wearing a seat belt in the back seat; and b) rules on wearing a seat belt in the rear seats.

This incident has sparked a conversation on the importance of following road safety measures especially for the passengers in the back seat.

A person in the back seat without a seat belt might go through this during an accident:

 

Last updated: September 05, 2022 | 15:24
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