Do you belt up when you sit at the rear of a vehicle? Do your rear seat passengers buckle up? Awarenessabout rear-seat restraints worldwide went a notch higher after the deaths of Princess Diana in 1997 and CBS newsman Bob Simon in 2015.
A new study has revealed that rear-seat passengers pose a potential threat to those in the front seats as they can easily become projectile missiles in a crash and injure those in the front seats.
The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety found out that when a car crashes with a passenger in the back seat who isn’t using a seat belt, the unbelted rear-seat passenger can slam into the front seat, pushing the occupant into the airbag and (if driver) steering wheel with a 56km/h impact.
In 2015, the most recent year for which data is available, 1,018 unrestrained rear-seat occupants died in car accidents across the world. The problem is more sensitive especially around Kenya as it was discovered that most passengers in ride-hailing services, i.e. Uber and Taxify, do not belt up especially if they are on short rides. Many backseat passengers operate under a false assumption that the backseat is safer than the front.
The Governors Highway Safety Association, in its own study found that rear seat passengers are three times more likely to die in a crash if unbelted. Some people even said they would belt up more readily in the rear seat if there were laws towards this.
In the USA, all states and the District of Columbia except New Hampshire require adults in the front seat to use belts but rear-seat passengers are covered by laws in only 29 states. Back home in Kenya, especially with the resurrection of the famousMichuki rules, all passengers are required by law to fasten their seatbelts for the entire length of the journey.
When these laws were introduced in 2004there was a 74% decrease in road accidents whereas fatal road crashes involving urban public service vehicles fell by a whopping 94 per cent in just three months. Whereas some countries/ states do not have laws addressing backseat passengers, in Kenya the law requires all passengers to buckle up regardless of seating position in the car.
This festive season and always, AA Kenya urges you to buckle up, and make sure all your passengers are buckled up!