Why don’t people wear seat belts in India?



The Maruti advertisement above is asking people of India – “Pehni Kiya”? In English, it means “Did you wear it?” – Did you wear the seat belt? When the same question was asked to car users in India, most people responded by saying – “NO”. The survey revealed 75% of car users do not wear seat belts in India.

“Pehni Kiya” advertisement was released by Maruti post the worrying figures from the survey. The survey titled “Use of seat belts in India-2017” was conducted by Millward Brown and IMRB (Kantar Group). I love this advertisement and I hope it changes people’s attitude towards life, safety and wearing seatbelts. I am attempting to do the same by sharing what people think about wearing seatbelts in India. And pleading for change.


Most people understand the value of seatbelts and know it is a law to wear seatbelts. Still, most Indians do not wear seatbelts while driving. I am highlighting some important points gathered from the survey (please see graphic below) –

survey conducted by Millward Brown and IMRB (Kantar Group) titled ‘Use of seat belts in India-2017’

Only 25% of vehicle users wear seat belts in India.

I asked my friends, colleagues and cab drivers why they don’t wear a seatbelt. I got similar answers as revealed by the survey – It ruins my clothes, causes inconvenience, it is against my pride, difficult to escape in case of a fire in the car, etc. It is better to go through the minor inconvenience of wearing a seatbelt rather than facing a life-threatening injury. It’s time to think about yourself.

15 people die every day in India in road accidents because they were not wearing seatbelts at the time of the accident.

This number is quite alarming. It’s simple you can be a good driver but cannot control how others drive. Be even more careful if you are a passenger in the car. The whole idea of the seat belt is to protect if you meet with an accident. We neglect the warning and pay it with a heavy price. It’s time to change our attitude.

Only 4% of Indians sitting in the rear seats wear belts.

If you love your family then make sure they wear the seatbelts first. It does not matter where they sit in the car. Unfortunately, people think they are safer in the rear seat and feel they do not require the seatbelt. The data shows only 4% people in the rear seat wear belts. The fact is that during the accident it is as dangerous to it in the rear seats as it is in the front. There is an 80% survival chance if you are wearing the seatbelt.

We often read that the driver or the front passengers survived the crash but the passengers in the rear seat did not survive. When the car crashes at high speed and topples a few times you cannot do anything. People without seatbelts are usually thrown out of the car or get multiple injuries because of hitting themselves everywhere in the car. Most deaths take place because of a head injury in such accidents. It’s time to think about everyone.

In the recent accident in Bengaluru (clipping from newspaper below) the passengers not wearing seatbelts did not survive the crash. Imagine a situation you survived a horrific accident because you were wearing a seatbelt. The others did not survive because they were not wearing the seatbelt. Can you think about the guilt you will carry for the rest of your life? It’s time to be more responsible.

TOI article - seatbelts in India

We live in a world of huge optimism for driving. For instance –

• People think they are superb drivers and are in total control of the car (but underestimate the road conditions and skills of other drivers)

• People think they are just going around the corner or driving too slow to meet with an accident (the accident can cause in a few seconds and life-threatening even at 40 km/hr speed)

• Many people believe bad things don’t happen to good people. They are not the ones who will meet with an accident (I wish it was true)

It’s better to be safe than sorry.


We blame the government for not able to control the accidents. We blame traffic police for weak legal enforcement. I am sure they are doing their bit and I know there is a long way to. How about we changed a few things ourselves? Here are my rules:

• I wear the seat belt even if I am driving for 5 minutes

• When I am in the driver seat I ensure that everyone in the car including front and rear seats wear the seat belts

• When I am in the passenger seat, I wear the seat belt and ensure the driver also wears it. I do not take the journey otherwise

If you are making inconvenience as an excuse then please use these seat belt cushions or seat belt pads easily available online. It will only not only make it convenient to drive but also protect your clothes.

seatbelts in India

My point is simple it takes seconds to wear a seat belt, and it takes only seconds to meet with an accident. Do not worry about clothes, pride or little inconvenience. Think about yourself and your family. Think about the 15 people who die every day in vehicle accidents because they were not wearing seatbelts. They also wanted to live but underestimated the power of seatbelts. Numerous data and experiments have proved that there is always a good chance to save yourself if you are wearing a seatbelt. Just do the right thing and be a hero to your family.

Happy and Safe Driving!