Following the accent on rear seatbelts and debate on car safety, plus Union Minister Nitin Gadkari’s statement about bringing in fines for car passengers not strapping up when seated behind, this paper highlighted the ubiquitous Mumbai kaali-peeli.
A report said that most black ‘n’ yellows and many aggregator cabs, too, do not have seatbelts in the rear. These have been removed, or, tucked away into the seat far behind, rendering them obsolete. These cabs need the space to accommodate three persons behind, experts spoke out in the report.
What came through even as one debated the rear seatbelt point is that some vehicles, though not all, may have broken seatbelts in the front. There are also arguments at times, between the driver and the passenger in the front seat of the cab. The latter does not want to wear a seatbelt despite it being there and told to do so. The driver cannot keep arguing as he needs passengers too, and agrees to drive.
At times we also see, an expert said, traffic cops whistling madly, urging the cabbie to drive off as he stops for passengers to alight. While the stops may cause congestion, it is also fair to give passengers some minutes to alight. This also plays a part in people being reluctant to wear seatbelts. We must see greater passenger-driver cooperation. In fact, both on the front seat must object if either one is not wearing a seatbelt.
Refresher courses on latest traffic safety trends, keeping in mind the evolving situation in Mumbai, would be good. Cabbies can think about retaining at least two seatbelts in the rear like they are in regular cars. At least when there is one or there are two passengers seated at the back, they do have the seatbelt facility. This is certainly something that could be explored given that these cabs are such an important part of our commuting landscape.