Seat-belt: boon or bane?
By: Yasir Ilyas
ISLAMABAD July 25, 2010: It has become our national character that the things which are generally in our favour after being turned into ‘Law’ are avoided by us. We find them a burden on us and we get a strange sort of pleasure in breaching them. Seat-belt is one such thing -- meant for our protection but we consider it a chain symbolizing slavery for us. We don’t even know that abiding by a law is a sign of freedom and independence rather than slavery.
Fastening seat belt on National Highways and Motorways is a law which is made for our protection and safety, as it is quite obvious that if the vehicle is moving with a velocity of above 100 km per hour and you have to apply breaks all of a sudden, the jerk one will receive could be fatal.
Another practice often witnessed is that drivers just place the belt on their chest, without adjusting it properly in the knob attached with the seat to deceive the traffic sergeant and throw it back with a sigh of relief after they get away from such sergeants.
“Why to wear seat-belt, particularly when you are comfortable without it? There are numerous other ways for these traffic sergeants to interrupt you other than this seat-belt.” Ikhlas Chaudhry said while driving his car without fastening seat-belt.
“Seat-belt is a good thing for our own safety but it is suitable for highways of Dubai or Europe, where you can touch 200 km/hour. But in Pakistan where irregular flow of traffic hardly allows you to fully press the accelerator of vehicle, seat-belts give a sense of frustration,” said Naeem Hameed, a young and educated driver of Islamabad.
Tanveer Ahmed, a driver of public transport, who drives a van on a route of Islamabad. He only uses seat-belt when he sees a constable or sergeant standing at a distance of 200 meters. After deceiving him, he proudly throws his seat-belt back to his shoulder. When he was asked about this law-breaching activity, he confessed his fault and promised to fasten it properly. “I used to avoid fastening the seat-belt as a protest against the ‘unjust and unfair’ behavior of National Highways & Motorways Police (NH&MP), but now I have realized that fastening seat belt is totally in my favor, so I promise you to fasten it in future.” Tanveer Ahmed pledged.
On the other side sergeants of the NH&MP are of the view that drivers should be educated that these laws are made for a safe journey on the highways and drivers can ensure the safety of themselves and their passengers through abiding by these simple traffic rules.
Asad Tahir, a young sergeant said that people think that we -- the sergeants are the beneficiaries of such laws and they violate these laws to get a feeling of an edge upon us but in actual they endanger their own lives besides becoming the victim of a Challan which ultimately gives them a financial loss, as well.
“About 30% of challans are made daily for violation of seat-belt rule. I cannot understand why these people do not use seat-belts, which on fastening does not create any harm whatsoever.” Alam Khan, A traffic constable said.
Making rules is not enough, it is also necessary to make people realize that these rules are in their own benefit. These rules are neither made to facilitate the traffic sergeants nor to impose strictness but to make lives of the passengers as well as the drivers safe while traveling.