The countdown to the rear seat-belt law has begun but there is one nagging question – what happens if there’s an additional passenger?
A normal saloon car can seat five passengers, three of them in the rear.
The uncertainty among those with more than five family members is, can the additional passenger travel without buckling up, once the rear seat-belt law is enforced on Jan 1?
The Road Safety Department says they can, but the traffic police says the issue has not been decided.
Department director-general Datuk Suret Singh said a car with a capacity of three seats in the rear would only have three seat belts.
However, the driver would be advised not to carry a fourth passenger without a seat belt.
But in the event there is a fourth rear passenger, he clarified that the extra passenger would not be summoned.
According to a survey conducted by his department, 91% of the cars sat fewer than three passengers behind. Only 9% of the cars had more than three passengers in the rear.
“If a van, MPV or saloon car has a seating capacity of seven, then seven seat belts should be provided.”
Federal Traffic Chief Senior Asst Comm Abdul Aziz, when contacted, said police had yet to decide on the issue of a fourth passenger in the back seat not belting up.
“It’s too early for me to comment on that, we will decide on the matter when the time comes,” he said.
He said for now, the concern was to educate the passengers to start using the rear seat belts.
“It is a good practice for the drivers, and also for the safety of their passengers,” he said.
Suret Singh said car manufacturers like Proton, Perodua and Honda have agreed to retrofit the rear seat belts free-of-charge for cars assembled after Jan 1, 1995.
They have all signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with the department, he said, adding that he was optimistic Naza would also retrofit the rear belts for free for their cars.
“We appreciate the contribution of all these companies to retrofit the belts without any extra cost as part of their corporate social responsibility programme for road safety,” he told The Star yesterday.
These companies are expected to announce soon the locations where the seat belts can be retrofitted, he added.