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Monday December 29, 2008

All must belt up in MPVs

PETALING JAYA: All seven or eight passengers in a multi-purpose vehicle (MPV) must belt up when the rear seat belt regulation is enforced from Jan 1, said Road Transport Department director-general Datuk Solah Mat Hassan.

“Every seat in a passenger vehicle must be installed with a seat belt, and there are only certain exemptions,” he said, citing vehicles with seats for one driver and eight or more passengers.

Also exempted are passenger vehicles registered before Jan 1, 1995, and those weighing more than 3.5 tonnes.

“Other than that, the number of belts in every passenger vehicle must correspond with the number of seats stated in the vehicle registration card,” he told The Star yesterday.

There has been a lot of debates on the rear seat belt policy, specifically the ruling that a fourth rear seat passenger need not wear a seat belt.

“This rule applies to the number of seats as stated on your registration card, ” he said, adding that it was also not technically possible to instal a fourth rear seat belt.

“Yet, there are still people who don’t care about having more than three passengers in the rear seat, especially in the rural areas,” he said.

According to Solah, there are four stages in the country’s approach to safety belts.

The first stage, implemented in 1979, requires the driver and front seat passenger to wear seat belts. The rear seat belt ruling is the second stage.

Solah said the Government would study the impact and effectiveness of the second stage before moving on to the third and fourth stages that deal with baby and child seats and the number of passengers in a vehicle.

“The urban population is more educated when it comes to passenger safety. But you can still see rural families cramping seven or eight people into a five-seater car,” he said.

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