Those sitting in the back of a car and not wearing a seatbelt will be fined soon, announced Transport Minister Nitin Gadkari on Tuesday, two days after Cyrus Mistry died in a car crash near Mumbai.
Mr Mistry, former Tata Sons Chairman, was sitting in the back seat and was not wearing a seatbelt as his speeding Mercedes crashed into a divider in the Palghar district of Maharashtra on Sunday.
"Already, it's mandatory to wear seatbelt at the rear seat but people are not following it. There will be a siren if the people at the rear seat don't wear belts like for the front seats. And if they don't wear belts, there will be a fine," said Mr Gadkari in an exclusive interview to NDTV, stressing that "at any lost, lives have to be saved".
Taking fines is not the motive but spreading awareness is, said Mr Gadkari on the compulsory use of seatbelts for those sitting in the back. He said by 2024 the goal is to reduce the road fatalities by 50 per cent.
Answering a direct question on what the fine for not wearing a rear seltbelt would be, the Minister said, "The minimum fine is Rs 1,000."
Asked whether enforcement of a fine will be problematic since state governments have a say in the matter, the Minister said, "No. I don't think so. They always support us."
"There are cameras and anywhere people who aren't following can be caught easily," said Mr Gadkari.
Asked if compulsory installation of airbags in the back seat will drive up the cost, the Minister underscored that saving lives is vital.
"Cost of 1 airbag is 1,000, for 6, it's 6,000. With more production, the cost will be reduced. Cost is not important, people's lives are," he emphasised.
As per the regulations, airbags are mandatory for the front passenger and the driver in India. As of January 2022, the government has made it mandatory to install 6 airbags in each passenger car with a passenger limit of up to 8.
Celebrities are campaigning for road safety, said the Minister, adding that he seeks cooperation from media.
"I am really very sorry and feeling bad. We should take the lesson and learn from it," said Mr Gadkari on Cyrus Mistry's death in car accident.
More than 59,000 people have died and 80,000 seriously injured in road accidents in Maharashtra in less than five years, the data released by the highway police revealed today.
According to the report titled 'Road accidents in India - 2020', more than 11 per cent of deaths and injuries were caused due to non-usage of seat belts, while 30.1 per cent of deaths and 26 per cent of injuries were caused due to non-usage of helmets in 2020.