Posted by SM Maulana
Tuesday, 17 June 2008
KUALA LUMPUR, June 16 (Bernama) — Some 479,000 cars registered before 1995 are expected to get free installation of rear seat belts from early next month until the middle of 2010 under a sponsorship programme initiated by the government. Transport Minister Datuk Ong Tee Keat said the cost per installation would be up to RM80 and average cost for a set of three rear seat belts at RM100. However, the entire cost would be borne by the manufacturers or through sponsorship by corporate organisations.
Car owners only need to bring their cars to selected workshops appointed by the manufacturers to fix the rear seat belts.
Ong said about 476,000 pre-1995 registered vehicles would be involved in the exercise, namely Perodua Kelisa (28,000), Perodua Kancil (141,000), Perodua Kenari (33,000), Proton Saga/Iswara (150,000), Naza (30,000) and other makes (20,000).
He said the first memorandum of understanding (MoU) for the free installation was scheduled to be signed tomorrow between the ministry and Proton. Under the MoU, Proton will pay for the installation cost of the rear seat belts for their car models at their workshops nationwide.
“The ministry is still working out the sponsorship details with other car manufacturers. I am confident we will secure enough sponsorship from private organisations under their Corporate Social Responsibility programmes,” Ong told Bernama here Monday.
He said car owners could install rear seat belts for free with the original manufacturers at selected workshops, and the respective manufacturers were expected to announce their plan of action in due course.
The minister said the rear seat belt ruling also applied to MPVs and 4WDs if they were classified as a passenger vehicle with eight passengers or less.
“However, the ruling does not apply to children below 10 years old.
“The ministry and the Road Safety Department encourage the use of baby bassinets, child seats and boosters, collectively referred to as child restraint measures. But this is not compulsory,” he said.
Ong said the installation must be carried out at selected workshops approved by the manufacturers to ensure proper installation by qualified people.
He said the compulsory use of rear seat belts was aimed at reducing road accident fatalities involving car passengers, and “not to add financial burden to the people and enriching cronies”.
“We have done all the surveys and studies. We do not want the people to pay the bill as they are already in a tight situation due to the fuel and food price hikes.
“So, we get manufacturers and corporate companies to sponsor the exercise as the government is serious about creating a world-class road safety culture,” he added.
Meanwhile, Road Safety Department director-general Datuk Suret Singh said based on studies, the risk of heavy injuries or death could be reduced by 50 per cent once the people started complying with the rear seat belt ruling.
“This can be translated into saving about 350 lives per year based on last year’s road accident studies carried out by the Malaysian Institute of Road Safety Research (Miros),” he said.
The government launched a campaign on the use of rear seat belts early this month, as part of the six-month advocacy period to instil awareness among car passengers to buckle up, before the law is enforced on Jan 1, 2009.
However, owners of cars manufactured before 1995 are given a three-year grace period from June 1 this year to install the rear seat belts.