3-Point Seat Belt

A study by the Malaysian Institute of Road Safety Research (MIROS) has alarmingly found only 7-9% of Malaysians to wear seat belts in the back, The Star reports, with transport minister Datuk Seri Liow Tiong Lai urging everyone to do so for their safety.

“Our road fatality rate is very high, and we have introduced many measures, including the back seat belt requirement. Unfortunately, adherence to the law is still very low,” he said. Malaysian roads claimed an astonishing 6,674 lives last year.

“This safety habit must be inculcated among Malaysian road-users the moment they get into their cars,” Liow said, adding that the police and Road Transport Department (JPJ) are already enforcing the use of rear seat belts.


“We don’t want to just continue with punitive action. We must also strengthen our awareness programmes. The law is already there. We just want to remind the public,” he said.

MIROS statistics show that the compliance rate for the rear seat belt rule was 47% when introduced in February 2009 (enforcement began on January 1, 2009), but this plummeted to 13% by end-2009, 9.7% by 2010 and 9.2% by 2011.

For some reason compliance rose to 13.5% in 2012, before dropping again to 12.5% in 2013, and 7.7% for the first four months of 2014. According to the institute, compliance and awareness seem to be borne more out of the fear of being fined.

A US Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration study revealed that in an accident involving a vehicle travelling at 50 km/h, the weight of unbuckled rear passengers jumps by 30-60 times their original weight.

This means that in a 30-50 km/h collision, an unrestrained rear passenger becomes the equivalent of a 3.5-tonne projectile hitting the back of the front passenger. Needless to say, that’s huge potential for injury or even death for both occupants.

MIROS statistics have also revealed that nearly 90% of vehicles currently on Malaysian roads are fitted with rear seat belts, giving seat belt access to 85% of vehicle occupants in the country.

Some people think the implementation of the rear seat belt law has been put on hold, and this is not true, MIROS has said. Only older models not equipped with seat belts are exempt from the law.

“What is important is for individuals to realise and be aware of its importance and not just buckle up for fear of being penalised,” Road Safety Department director-general Datuk Dr Tam Weng Wah said last year.

We know full well why we must buckle up, front or back. And law or no law, fine or no fine, belting up in the back is not difficult to do – we value our lives as well as those of our loved ones, don’t we?