Come January 1st 2009, the first 3 rear paseengers would have to wear safety belts for cars registered after 1995.
This is indeed good news.
Studies have shown that many deaths of the front passengers who buckled up properly were caused by rear passengers being thrown forward like a projectile in a crash. The force of a person travelling at 60km/hour would be 40 times the body weight. If there is any impact, the force exerted would kill the Back passenger as well the the Front passenger directly in front, mostly by fracturing the cervical spines (neck spines). ( it is also for this reason that it is best to keep loose things like umbrellas and books in the boot instead of the shelf in front of the back windsrceen.)
So, it is for the good of the rear passengers as well as the front passengers for the rear passengers to buckle up.
What I cannot agree is the ruling that the fourth rear passenger would be exempted. This would have defeated the purpose of asking the first 3 persons to wear safety belts. This ruling might be because the government is trying to appease the rural folks and those with big family. But if there is a law or rule for the safety of the people, it should be applied to all people.
I think enforcement alone, especially in the Malaysian context, may not be enough to ensure this rule be followed. What is needed is to educate the public, telling them that this is something for their own good . So how are you going to educate the importance of safety when the fourth person at the back is exempted and while the first 3 have to buckle up?
If people are not convinced, then how are you going to achieve a behavioural change? Enforcement can only do the trick when it is very strictly enforced with very frequent checks, like what Singapore enforcement agencies are doing.
At the moment , Malaysian enforcement is so lax that motorcyclists are often seen to go through red lights even in the presence of police officers who will not do anything to stop them. This is a great departure from the sixties when cars that stopped over the white ‘halt’ line at junctions were being summoned.
So unless there is strict enforcement and a vigilant police force, this ruling would not really help to make people buckled up.