Of the 6,282 road accidents last year, more than 2,200 rear-seat passengers would not have died or sustained injuries if they had worn seat belts.
About 75 per cent of road users are aware that come Jan 1, it would be compulsory to use the rear seat belt in their cars.
Another type of Rear Seat Belts
However, Malaysia Road Safety Department (JKJR) director-general Datuk Suret Singh said 60 per cent of motorists polled said they would only start using the seat belt on enforcement day.
He also said that 360 fatalities last year were the result of rear-seat passengers not buckling up, while 700 more people suffered serious injury because of the same reason.
For cars which had not been fitted with rear seat belts, he said the government gave a maximum grace period of three years for the vehicles to be fitted with rear seat belts.
The front seats (driver and front passenger) were ejected forward due to the additional “push” force from the unbelted rear passengers.
Transport Minister Datuk Seri Ong Tee Keat said the rear seat belt ruling, which will be enforced on Jan 1, would require that cars manufactured before Jan 1, 1995 be retrofitted with the rear belts, because most cars produced after that have the belts.
Rear Seat Belts
“Studies by the Malaysian Institute on Road Safety have revealed that installing rear seat belts on cars can save 200 lives per year,” he said in the winding up debate on his ministry at the committee stage.
Ong said the Ministry was aware of the difficulties that might be faced by the public if a car had more than three passengers in the rear seat, such as those with big families.
“We will still enforce the law on this, but it will not be as strict as in developed countries.
“At the same time, we urge the public to limit the number of passengers in their cars,” he added.