It peels the skill, ruins your white t-shirt, and is uneasy – The seatbelt tale

Gitanjali Diwakar December 3 | Updated on December 03, 2019


My tardiness has often compelled me to resort to services of a cab. Being chauffer driven, while luxurious, is more tiresome than a walk along the world’s second longest beach. Sure, somebody else is ‘behind the wheel’. But it is more eerie to be witness to another person's ignorance and stupidity.

A large number of Uber and Ola cab drivers across India are found dodging the seatbelt norm. Despite the recent amendments to the Motor Vehicles Act (which, incidentally, insists on fastening seatbelts even for those in the backseat), precious little seems to have changed.

The reasons are infinite. From leaving stains on one’s brand new shirt to driving at ONLY 40 km/hr at night of a highway that is crowded; nothing stirs these drivers away from being headstrong about the strap of safety.

Now, before I go about accusing these innocent souls, let me remind you that the attitude is more prominent among the educated elite of the country. In Hyderabad, a retired Army Officer refused fasten his seatbelt despite being in the driver’s seat. Amusingly, his wife did not do so either, until she was advised against it. In Chennai, a wealthy businessman boldly tells his co-passengers that it is not ‘necessary’ to wear a seatbelt especially at night and if it is not the highway. These ‘wise’ words are also shared with those sitting in the front seat.

Question – Are car manufacturers out of their wits to shell out millions to test their seatbelts and others safety mechanisms before selling it to these bozos?

Traffic or no traffic, preventive measures are tiny steps towards reducing the instances of fatalities. I bet my life’s savings on the fact that these drivers would not resist such a norm in a foreign country, where the rules are strict. Face it, when one has to pay a fine in dollars, one considers converting the amount to Indian rupees. But I suppose the Indian Rupee grows on trees. Or may be threatening the authority is easier here, isn’t it?

My ability to persuade a driver to slash the seatbelt across has made rather unpopular among many people. Then again, it has not stirred me away from my favourite motto – Safety first. This ‘strap’ had saved a few friends of the family during a massive accident while driving on one of Tamil Nadu’s finest roads. My father, too, during a recent trip, escaped severe injuries for he wore the seatbelt despite sitting in the backseat of a car. There are many such instances. But nothing denies one from stating the ever philosophical, “If one is destined to die, they will die.”

Here is the truth. Nobody wants to die or is yearning to face it by being foolish.

Driving is a privilege. Being driven around is a luxury. But driving another around is a responsibility. Our roads can only become safer if we choose to value not only our life but also that of the others’.

Published on December 03, 2019

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