Rear seat belts a must by Sept 2008

Rear seat belts ruling only for private vehicles

KUALA LUMPUR, April 26 (Bernama) — A rule, which will make it compulsory for rear seat passengers to use seat belts, is applicable only to private vehicles, Transport Minister Datuk Ong Tee Keat said Saturday.

As such, he said, public transports such as taxis and buses would be exempted from the ruling, which would take effect in September.

“However, since passenger safety is our main concern, we will conduct a study on whether to make the ruling compulsory for public transport as well,” he told reporters after attending the Kampung Pandan neighbourhood watch orientation programme here.

Ong also said that the rule was only for vehicles registered after January 1, 1995.

“However, there are certain model of cars which have no rear seat belts. We will give the owner ample time to install them,” he said.

The public would be given three months, beginning June to September, to get used to wearing the rear safety belts, after which summonses would be issued to those who failed to comply with the ruling, he said.

Original article here.

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This is nothing new to me, really. Because here in New Zealand, it’s already a rule. All private cars have rear seat belts, and you have to wear them, no matter if you’re only driving to a dairy shop (kedai runcit) about 5 minutes away. There are policemen who stop you, and tell you to put your seatbelts on, even if they’re already off duty. Yes, it’s a law here in New Zealand that rear seat belts are compulsory, and have to be worn at all times. If the passenger is of age (18 years and above), then they will be the ones who get the fines, not the driver. So it’s our own responsibility to ensure that we have our safety belts on at all times.

Sure, it’s for safety. Nothing wrong with that. And it’s good to know that Malaysia wants to ensure that Malaysian people are properly safeguarded byt having these safety measures in place.

But there’s one glaring difference between New Zealand and Malaysia. In New Zealand, almost everyone has a car. I’m not talking about per family, as in one family has one car. I’m talking about EVERYONE who’s of a legal age to drive, which happens to be 15 years, has a car. Okay, so it’s slightly exaggerated. But in a family of 5 people, it’s almost a given that they would have at least 2 cars, and if the children can drive, well, they’ll have cars of their own. Cars come rather cheap.

In Malaysia, it’s slightly different. Families are bigger in Malaysia. And to save on petrol and other costs, they tend to carpool a lot too. That’s where the problem comes in. How many people in Malaysia would actually stick to the “5 people per car” ruling? That’s basically what this rear seat belt rule is about. Because one can only have 3 people sitting at the back seats, one driving, and one in the front seat. That makes 5 people per car. Some families have 5 children! Add that with the 2 parents, that’s a total of 7 people per car if they were to make a family trip!

It’s going to be difficult, because of the conditions in Malaysia. It’s almost always one car per household. Cars are expensive. Parking fees are expensive. Fuel is expensive.

But safety is important. This is actually a good move, just one that comes with a lot of complications to resolve. Families who are used to cramming 6 or 7 people into one car, are going to find this ruling very difficult to live by.



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