Maruti Suzuki India Limited (MSIL), the country’s leading passenger vehicle manufacturer, has unveiled a social campaign (#PehniKya?) across India to promote use of seat belt in cars and enhance the safety of all occupants. Only 25% of car occupants wear the seat belt regularly, according to a latest research survey conducted across 17 Indian cities, commissioned by MSIL. According to the survey, use of seat belt is high in a few cities where enforcement is stringent, and appallingly low in the rest of the country. Besides weak enforcement, the key reasons for not wearing a seat belt include lack of awareness of its benefits, the fear that wearing a seat belt will “negatively affect image”, that friends and family “do not wear it” and that it “ruins clothes”.
As more and more passenger vehicles come equipped with airbags to meet advanced safety norms laid down by the government, the use of seat belt becomes even more critical for safety. If an occupant is not wearing a seat belt, an airbag may cause more harm in the event of a crash. Data collated by the Ministry of Road Transport and Highways (MoRTH) shows that non-wearing of seat belts was reported in 5638 accident deaths in the country in 2016. According to World Health Organization (WHO), seat belts are the primary restraint system that can reduce the risk of fatality by 45-60%. The 360 degree social campaign will be across platforms including television, radio, and digital and on ground events.