It appears that nine years since it became mandatory for rear passengers to wear seat belts, Penangites still refuse to buckle up at the back, according to a report by The Sun. Road Safety Council general treasurer Ahmed Ismail Amin said that the practice is almost non-existent in the state, and there were even a number of drivers who did not fasten their seat belts.

“Based on my 90-minute observation during the Chinese New Year Road Safety Advocacy Campaign, I did not see even one rear passenger using a seat belt,” he said. “What I found alarming was that only 80% of drivers had buckled up when I was handing out goodie bags during the campaign.”

Besides expressing his disappointment at the lack of awareness and enforcement of the seat belt ruling, Ahmed Ismail also stressed the importance of motorcyclists wearing their helmets properly when travelling long distance.

“Motorcycle helmets have an average life span of about five years before the material starts to harden and become brittle,” he said. “Those which are dropped often might have hairline cracks which also weakens structural strength. Although most motorcyclists wear helmets on the road, they should also know that the helmet’s strap should not be too loose with a two-finger allowance at the most.”

The comments were made during a Penang Road Safety Department (JKJR) campaign at the Penang Bridge rest area, where officials from the Land Public Transport Commission (SPAD), police, Road Transport Department (JPJ) and PLUS handed out 300 goodie bags and 100 new helmets to motorists. They also replaced rear lightbulbs on motorcycles for free.