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Billionaire's Death Sparks Road Safety Conversation, Individual Effort Required

Theoretically, we all have an idea of what is right and what is wrong, and it is up to every individual to choose between them in every decision they make. In some situations, wealthier people tend to be favored in one way or another, and some of them tend to take better decisions than less fortunate ones. A recent fatality proved, once again, that we are all equal in the face of death.
Two crashtest dummies in rear seat of a vehicle before a test, wearing their seatbelts 34 photos
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In case you are not up to speed on international events, last Sunday, Indian industry titan Cyrus Mistry died in a car accident. The vehicle he was in had hit a divider on a highway, and Cyrus, along with the passenger who sat beside him in the back seats, were not wearing their seatbelts.

Now, in case you were unaware of Indian traffic laws, you should know that they do mandate the use of seat belts for all car occupants. It is also important to note that police officers rarely enforce the law, especially when back seat passengers are concerned. India is not the only country where this happens, mind you, and nobody wins anything in this situation.

As a result, India has one of the highest road accident death figures in the world. Back in 2021, over 150,000 people died in vehicle accidents in the country, which is about 18 people per hour, as the BBC estimated from official government data from India.

The matter at hand is that Cyrus Pallonji Mistry, a billionaire from India, who also used to be the Chairman of the Tata Group up until a few years ago, probably knew that laws in India mandate the use of a seat belt even for those who sit in the back seats.

Volvo Accident Research Team
His driver knew that as well, but they were also aware that the police would not fine them even if an officer on a motorcycle were to pass their car, take a glance inside, and notice two unbelted passengers on the rear seats.

India's Federal Transport Minister, Nitin Gadkari, announced this week that people sitting in the back seats of vehicles without wearing seat belts would be fined soon. Vehicle manufacturers will have to install rear seat belt alarms as standard equipment in cars sold in India to ensure people in the rear seats wear seat belts.

They say that hindsight is 20:20, and it is easy to say what other people should have done in situations that have been concluded minutes, hours, days, weeks, or even years ago. The only thing that can be done when these things happen is to be aware of the dangers that, we, humans face when getting in a vehicle or when simply walking on the sidewalk in a city.

There are risks everywhere, and getting yourself exposed to them more frequently does not make the risk smaller or less dangerous, but turns your life into a game of probability.

Crashed 2019 Honda HR\-V
To have better odds, it is your responsibility to look both ways before crossing the street and to continue to look left and right for as many times as needed to ensure that you see all the possible vehicles that may be on the road and heading your way. It works in both right-hand-drive and left-hand drive countries, mind you.

In the case of wearing seatbelts, nothing bad can happen to you if you buckle up when you get in a vehicle regardless of where you are seated. Yes, people may look strange at the only person on the tour bus to buckle up, but everyone regrets not wearing seatbelts if they are involved in an accident.

The described situation works when the people in question are still alive after the impact. I apologize for what may be seen as a harsh thing to write, but regrets do not cancel things that happened in a certain way just because you wished you had done something differently.

Sadly, this accident has shown that it does not matter if you are wealthy or poor when you are not wearing a seat belt in an accident. Somehow, people in India have taken note of the event, and a three-second video simulation involving crash test dummies that do not wear seat belts in the backseat has become viral in the country.

We do not expect miracles to happen in terms of road safety in India, not overnight, but at least the discussion on road and vehicle safety is once again open. Going from that point to having everyone buckled up in a vehicle each time, is a road that has many twists, turns, and detours, and nobody can say how long it will be.

All that you, dear reader, can do is to be sure that you always fasten your belt when you take a seat in a vehicle, and ensure that your passengers do the same.

Insist that they do, and refuse to drive off if they do not comply. It might just save their lives and even yours, if someone in an SUV “forgets” to press the brake pedal when approaching a stoplight. Yes, I have heard that “excuse.”



Editor's note: For illustration purposes, the photo gallery shows crashed vehicles.

 
 
 
 
 

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