Union minister for Road Transport & Highways Nitin Gadkari on Tuesday said there will be a provision to penalise drivers if passengers in the backseat of a car are not wearing seat belts.
While Gadkari didn't divulge details on the amount of fine that will be imposed for not wearing a seat belt in the rear seat, he said this is a subject in the concurrent list and the amount will differ from state to state.
The transport minister further said that the government is in talks with carmakers to add more safety features like beep sound if passengers in the backseat don't wear seat belts. "If car passengers have not put on their seat belts, there will be beep sound like it is for the driver seat," Gadkari said at an event organised by a business daily.
This comes close on the heels of Tata Sons former chairman Cyrus Mistry's death in a car crash. According to the local police, Mistry was seated in the backseat and wasn't wearing a seat belt when the Mercedes car he was travelling in hit a divider.
Until now, wearing a seat belt has been mandatory for only front seat passengers.
Gadkari said that the government will issue a notification in the next three days on the amount of penalty involved if a passenger fails to wear a seat belt.
In June, the Union minister had said that the Centre will make a minimum of six airbags mandatory for cars even in economic models to enhance the safety of passengers.
"We have decided to make six airbags mandatory for cars. Some of the company people are constantly making opposition for that. We want to save the lives of the people and that is the reason we need cooperation from the stakeholders," Gadkari had said.
There is a higher domestic demand for higher star ratings cars which are much safer, according to Gadkari. "Some companies are making same brand cars in India which are not up to the standard but they are making the same cars with international standards for the overseas market," he said.
"When India has got a lot of accident deaths, then why are these companies not taking this seriously?" he asked.
"In India, every year we have 5 lakh accidents and 1.5 lakh deaths and 3 lakh serious injuries. There are 400 accidental deaths per hour in the country. The socio-economic loss due to this is 3.14% of our GDP and 70% deaths are in the age group of 18-40 years," the Union minister said.
The government is looking to reduce road accident deaths by 50% by 2024. "We need to work on road engineering, automobile engineering, enforcement, education, and emergency medical services," Gadkari said.
The Union minister had also attributed road accidents to faulty detailed project reports. "DPRs are of poor quality. The principle in DPR is that the lowest bid is the best bid. That is the problem with the DPRs. We need to use new technologies to prepare DPRs," he said.