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Posted at: Sep 14, 2019, 12:14 AM; last updated: Sep 14, 2019, 12:14 AM (IST)GOOD MOTORING BY H. KISHIE SINGH

A gaping hole

The Motor Vehicles (Amendment) Act 2019 addresses various issues but leaves out a crucial one: Where should a child sit?
A gaping hole
Photo for representational use only. iStock

“450 killed as jumbo jet crashes on Indian soil”

What if this headline appears day after day, week after week, month after month? It would mean at the end of a year close to two lakh people had been killed. Millions maimed and disabled.

We don’t need the jumbo jet crashing. We kill this many people in auto-related accidents. And it is an accepted fact that 90 per cent of road crashes are due to human error. But, the government has finally cracked the whip to curb lawlessness on the streets.

The fines are justified. Lives are at stake. No one has the right to kill wantonly. That’s what drunken driving amounts to or even jumping a red light.

If you buy a vintage car that has been dumped for 50 years, the RLA demands that road tax be paid for that period. Similarly, if a man has been driving a vehicle for two years without paying road tax, the amount should be added to the fine. It’s only fair. After all, he did use government roads. This happened in Gurugram. A man bought a scooter and drove around for two years without registration, licence, insurance, pollution certificate, nothing! These laws are aimed at curbing such outlaws and to keep other citizens safe.

Rear seatbelts have become mandatory. However, a very important point has not been addressed. Who can sit in the front passenger seat?

Two horrifying sights come to mind: a lady in the front seat, with the seatbelt fastened across the baby bump. In case of a collision, the lower portion of the seatbelt will squeeze the life out of the unborn child in the baby bump! If the seatbelt has a pre- tensioner, this will surely happen.

Another horrific sight you see every day. Mom in the front seat with the belt on, baby in the lap, ahead of the seat belt. If the car has airbags, these, when deployed, could suffocate the child. Not wearing seatbelts in a car equipped with airbags could be fatal.

The fact is that we do not know the value of seatbelts and airbags. They are life-saving equipment and must be taken seriously and treated with respect. 

In developed and disciplined countries, this is the law regarding children travelling in cars:

No child under 13 years of age may sit in the front seat. After attaining that age, the child must be 1450 cm in height and must weigh 40 kg.

Reason: when the airbag deploys, it hits an adult in the chest. A child gets it in the face. Suffocation is inevitable.

The seatbelt restrains an adult, but a child being smaller could slip under the belts and get strangulated.

Ladies, you may not put your child in the rear seat and yourself in the front seat, but you must sit with the child. Children are naughty, fidgety, restless and need constant supervision. Learn to fasten and release seatbelts. Very important, the child lock should be on.

Again, there are very serious rules regarding carrying a baby in a car. To accommodate these rules, various types of seatbelts and baby carriers are available in the market, each designed for a specific age group.

A lot of auto manufacturers are providing anchor points to hold the child seats securely.

Happy Motoring!

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