Rear seat belt usage among Malaysian road users is still very low at 11%, despite regulations having been in place since 2009 based on observations, said Malaysian Institute of Road Safety (MIROS) chairman Datuk Suret Singh according to Bernama.

“According to studies, if the driver and passengers in a vehicle are involved in a road accident, the risk of death can be reduced by 50% with airbags, and this increases to 80% if used together with safety belts,” the chairman told the news wire agency recently.

A strategic plan for the instilling of rear seat belt use has been developed as a starting point to educate and increase awareness in stages the importance of using seat belts, based on the rate of compliance, he said. The plan had been approved by MIROS board of directors and was initially planned for implementation from last year until 2022, but was suspended due to the pandemic.

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“MIROS will work with the transport ministry and the road transport department (JPJ) to ensure that the plan is improved,” he said. The chairman was also optimistic of reaching a 95% compliance rate for seat belt usage by 2022, as part of inculcating its use as part of Malaysian road users’ habits, Bernama reported.

Coming into force from January 1, 2009, those found guilty of violating the law under the 2008 amendment of Motor Vehicles Rules (Seatbelt) can be fined up to RM1,000 or face a jail term of up to one year, or both.

“In the plan, we will turn the highest government officials into role models because it is the aspiration of the chief secretary to the government,” said the MIROS chairman. On November 1, 2020, chief secretary to the government Tan Sri Mohd Zuki Ali signed a Safety Belt Use Campaign circular that made it compulsory for government officers to use safety belts when riding in government-owned vehicles, the report said.