Ensure rear seat belts in Indian cabs are usable -- save lives

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Dear Mr Gadkari,

While front seatbelt are mandatory in India, I’m sure you would agree that wearing rear seat belts is also advisable for road safety. There have been many horrific accidents that have claimed lives because of a combination of overspeeding, without the use of rear seat belts.

While use of rear seat belts may be a choice in India, the unfortunate reality is that in cabs Indians just don’t have the choice of using rear seat belts. Most Indian cab drivers push the rear seat belt holders below the seat covers. I use Uber and Ola almost everyday, and I’ve noticed that nearly 95 percent of Uber and Ola cabs don’t offer rear seat belts because the drivers have pushed them below the seat cover.

Unfortunately, it’s almost impossible to pull the holder back up, and drivers refuse to do it. Uber and Ola also don’t penalise drivers for such safety violations when customers complain. I have personally complained many times about lack of rear seat belts in cabs in feedback, but Uber and Ola have never responded — clearly, safety isn’t a priority for them.

Given that so many Indians use such cab services and aggregators for trips to airports that can be far from the main city and on newly built highways at high speeds, it is imperative that every customer must at least have a choice of using rear seat belts — taking away this choice from the customer by pushing the seat belt holder under the seat belt is deliberately risking precious lives because of the laziness of cab operators as well as lack of interest in safety from cab aggregators like Uber and Ola who only care about maximising revenue. 

Dear Mr Gadkari — the government can make a difference here by mandating that rear seat belts should be functional always. The traffic police and RTO authorities should be empowered to heavily fine any vehicle that violates safety by making rear seat belts unusable. Customers must be able to complaint against violating cabs by sending pictures on traffic police applications, etc. 

The government should also mandate that cab operators and aggregators must take action on such customer complaints and penalise their driver partners for violations. That is the only way to ensure that safety is accorded basic importance. After all, seat belts are the most basic safety devices in cars, and by deliberately making seat belts usable, drivers and owners of such cabs and aggregators such as Uber and Ola are callously playing with valuable Indian lives.



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