Wearing rear seat belt set to become mandatory, says Nitin Gadkari

Days after a car accident killed former Tata group chairman Cyrus Mistry, Union Minister for Road Transport & Highways Nitin Gadkari on Tuesday announced the central government would now make it mandatory for all travellers in a car to wear a seat belt. He said a penalty has already been decided for defaulters, regardless of whether they are in the front or rear seat.

The minister was speaking at the β€˜[email protected] β€” Past, Present and Future’ conclave organised by Business Standard in New Delhi.

He said: β€œThe notification for the rear seat belt mandate will be issued in the coming two-three days.”

β€œRoad safety is the only field where I tried my best but could not succeed,” he said, lamenting that

There remains a problem in the mindset and lack of will to adhere to motor vehicle rules.

Though Gadkari did not specify the quantum of fine on defaulters, he said seat belts, just like the installation of airbags for all passengers, would be mandatory for all categories of cars. India ranks the highest in the world in terms of road accidents.

Though Mistry was in the rear seat of the ill-fated Mercedes SUV, according to police, he wasn’t wearing a seat belt at the time of the accident on Sunday.

In 2021, around 500,000 road accidents happened in the country, killing 150,000 people.

Previously, the minister pointed out how faulty detailed project reports (DPRs) for national highways have played a big part in compromising road safety.

Business Standard earlier reported that the government has mandated training for all consultants preparing DPRs, in view of poor road design leading to several accidents.

Gadkari mentioned that a whopping 60 percent of casualties emanating from road mishaps were of people in the 18-34-year age group, and highlighted that road accidents and Covid-19 collectively delivered a 3 per cent hit on the country’s economy.

About growth of the roads sector in the country, the Union minister said annual toll revenue shall increase to Rs 1.4 trillion by 2024, from Rs 40,000 crore currently. The Centre is currently in full swing to expand the national highway network from 140,000 km to 200,000 km.

Gadkari said he is opening the roads sector for retail investors. The government is prioritising retail investments in highway infrastructure, followed by domestic investors and foreign investors, he noted.

The minister said the National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) will now look at extensively monetising highway projects via InvIT and toll-operate-transfer, and also find ways to make these projects accessible to retail investors.

Gadkari’s ministry is planning to build a satellite-based tolling system that can help eradicate the need for toll plazas.

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