KOLKATA: After an MNC executive, travelling in the rear seat of a car, died in a crash on E M Bypass, another person, who was involved in a similar accident in Greater Noida a couple of days earlier, tweeted about it. The only difference between Sudip Chakraborty who died in the accident in Kolkata and Sanjeev Bardhan who survived the crash in Noida was a 2-inch-wide strapping that Bardhan had decided to buckle on and Chakraborty had ignored.
“We were hit by an SUV, and the 15-20 seconds that followed after the major hit were the moments that I guess would remain fresh in my mind all life, because I know I ditched death in those few moments. We had our car take three revolutions after the hit and we clearly remember bumping in the air in all directions with a blank mind and no control over what was happening.”
“When the car finally halted, the three of us looked at each other with no words, no thoughts, probably just a disbelief on what had just happened and a quick check on each other to see if we were safe… I am alive today only because I had my seat belt on and the air bags had opened just in the right time. #PleaseAlwaysWearSeatbelt,” tweeted Bardhan.
According to WHO, a seat belt reduces the risk of fatal injury by 50% for front-seat occupants in case of an accident. For passengers in the back, it can lower fatalities by as much as 75%. Officials at Maruti Suzuki India Ltd (MSIL), the largest manufacturer of cars, say seat belts can prevent 80% of fatalities, with airbags making the crucial difference in 10% cases. Kolkatans, however, refuse to learn.
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They don’t mind spending lakhs on cars that are loaded with safety features, such as multiple airbags, anti-lock braking system (ABS), electronic stability program (ESP) and electronic brakeforce distribution (EBD). However, when they step into it, they refuse to deploy the most basic safety device, the seat belt, designed to restrain people in their seats and prevent or reduce injuries during a crash.
Automotive experts pointed out that passengers in the rear seat are the most vulnerable in an accident. A few years ago, Union minister Gopinath Munde died in what appeared to be an innocuous road accident in Delhi that did not cause much damage to the car.
An Air India air hostess on way to the airport to take a flight to Kolkata was flung out of her seat and landed on the bonnet after crashing through the front windshield in a pileup on a flyover in Delhi. A 15-year-old student of fashion design died after being thrown out of the car on EM Bypass after an accident.