Wednesday, December 03, 2008

A reason to keep it small

It might have started somewhere in June if my memory of things like this can be trusted to any extent. Vehicle owners were requested to fix seatbelts at the rear seats by August and could be fined if the belts weren't there in case any law enforcement personnel decided to take a peek at your backseat.

The ruling to actually use the seatbelt at the back seats is supposed to begin come January 1st 2009, which is much nearer to us than anybody may think it is. Hearing all this, I'm beginning to wonder if this new ruling will ever see people at back seat sitting straight and properly instead of placing themselves in the middle. Even now with the front seat rule fully enforced (since eons ago), there are still people who pointedly refuse to use their belt until they see a cop and then panic and start frantically looking for the belt while hoping the cop didn't notice!

Anyway, I heard the news this morning, and this topic was discussed... most normal cars are 5 seaters, meaning that 2 people sit in front and three at the back. Apparently, the extra person/people in the car will not be fined for flouting the seatbelt rule, instead they (the poor driver) will be fined for (drum rolls, please) overloading.

Now I understand how dangerous and uncomfortable overloading can be especially when you try to fit 7 into a 4 seater regardless of how small some people can be. Thankfully none of us got badly smashed in the four minute squeeze! But I digress... The news got me wondering about families who say had 4 kids (all of them still underaged to drive), and what were they going to do if they ever decided to go on a roadtrip. Would each parent need to drive a separate car with 2 kids each? So will people start stopping at three kids to comfortably fit their family (I have not been successful at determining the latest average family size in Malaysia, though), but I know a few people with more than three kids.

Oh well, there's always the MPV!

9 comments:

  1. That is insane! Seriously, I can't believe that rule is only coming into effect now. If you or any one of your passengers is caught without their seatbelt on here you will lose your license straight away. It is just common sense since it is the first and most important thing to save your life..considering you had two close crushes lately..I'm seriously beginning to think kidnapping you would be for your own safety..but then again..um..how do you feel about snakes, spider, sharks and crocodiles? Hmmm.

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  2. Here its mandatory that everyone wears a seatbelt, although they changed the laws recently so that if you're an adult in a passenger seat you, rather than the driver, are fined if you are not wearing one. Cars without 5 functional seatbelts (unless they are 2 seater cars, or something) do not pass the NCT (national car test)and so are deemed unroadworthy.

    The seatbelt thing has developed over time. When I was a kid there were no seatbelts in the back of cars, and the NCT is only about 6 or 7 years old.

    I had taken all this for granted... but one day when I was in the US I got into a cab and put my belt on. The driver of the cab took this as a personal insult asking me if I didn't trust him and his driving. The only way out of this social reprimand seemed to me to be to explain that I was a foreigner and it was simply the law where I came from.

    They have all these ads here as well, which are quite graphic, showing how those who don't wear seatbelts can actually cause the damage to other people in the car.

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  3. Orhan: True... that's why it's an offence to not wear the front seatbelt (which I do, by the way...) Nevertheless, the rear seat belt thing is pretty new. We'll see how it goes. Hmmm... (taps chin in thought)

    Aunty: There are ads here as well, and they are pretty gory. I guess different rules apply to different countries. The funny thing is, when Singaporeans visit M'sia (which is just a drive away), they automatically take off the rear seatbelts. I mean, if their cars already have it, then why not use it? After all they are used to it.. Just goes to show that what they care about is not their safety and more about not getting fined.

    I think what you did in the cab in US is totally logical, though... I would have done the same :)

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  4. Here only front belts is a must, no rules for rear ones. I also never drive without the belt, but then you never know. My cousin had been in an accident; the car crashed and fell over a hill turning upside down. The side he was seated smashed on a rock. He would have died if he hadn't flied out of the front window, i.e. if he had the belt on. But I guess that is a rare case...Not sure if I could explain this clearly. Well, hope you guys be safe always.

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  5. Oh wow, your cousin's story is quite amazing. The rear seat belt ruling is new, and you know how people can be resistant to change. And thanks for dropping by... By the way, when you say 'here', where are you referring to?

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  6. Oops sorry; I thought the location was obvious thru IPs and stuff...I know so little about computers and the net. Well, I am in Istanbul,Turkey or Turkiye as we call it. And you have a very nice blog. :)

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  7. Cool... I'm not that great with technology either, and of course I have a tracker to see who visits, but I can't place the visitor with the comments.

    And thank you :)

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  8. When the laws were passed in the States requiring seat belts, it applied to all people within the vehicle. Newer vechicles were modified to include seatbelts for all passengers according to the vehicle capacity.

    So if your vehicle was designed to seat 5 people, you had 5 seatbelts and so on.

    It took some adjustment for me in the beginning, but it's been the law so long that I don't really notice anymore. I get in, I buckle up. And kids don't even complain about it these days, since they've grown up being required to wear seatbelts.

    I do get your point though. If you haven't had the law before, then your vehicles may not have enough useable seatbelts for all rear seat passengers.

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  9. That's true... and the reason why they gave a deadline for the seatbelts to be fixed first before the ruling for using them came into force.

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