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Content from:  Torque

More than 20 years ago, the Road Traffic Act made it mandatory for rear-seat passengers who are at least 1.5 metres in height to belt up.

Category: Car Ownership Advice

In 1993, the Road Traffic Act made buckling-up mandatory for backseat passengers at least 1.5 metres in height. Anyone in the rear caught not wearing a seat belt was slapped with a $120 fine, while the vehicle's driver would be fined the same amount and given three demerit points.

Despite these penalties, many people flouted the rule (and still do, to this day). The excuses given by recalcitrant passengers range from "the belts are uncomfortable" to "the back seat is safer anyway". Others even proclaimed that they had a 'safe driver', and believed they would never get into an accident.

Belting up in the rear saves lives and could 'save' you $120

This attitude echoes the initial resistance by local motorists to the wearing of front seat belts, which became compulsory in 1981. Many, including driving instructors, argued that seat belts
would hinder their chances of escaping an automobile in a serious collision, especially if their hands were injured.

Although the rear seat belt law was intended to enhance safety, it wasn't all-encompassing. While every new car registered on or after 1st January 1993 had to have rear seat belts, owners of older cars weren't required to retrofit their vehicles
with extra seat belts.

Even though seat belts have long been proven to save lives in a car crash, they remain unpopular among rear passengers. During a one-week crackdown in 2002, for instance, the Traffic Police issued no less than 587 warnings to rear seat occupants who did not belt up. 
The Government stepped up its efforts to improve passenger safety seven years later, when all purpose-built MPVs (multi-purpose vehicles) had to have seat belts for each of the back seats. 

Specifically, every outboard seat in every rear row has to have a three-point belt, while the middle seats should be
equipped with a lap belt at the very least.

The authorities were very serious about this new ruling, even if it did come into effect on 1st April 2009 (April Fool's Day). The real fools, however, are the backseat passengers who persist in not belting up. 

All MPVs registered from 2009 must have seat belts for each of the back seats

In the event of (touch wood) a bad traffic accident, they could end up being transported in the back of a vehicle exempt from Singapore's rear seat belt law - a hearse.
Torque The article first appeared in the February 2013 issue of Torque. Log on to their website to subscribe.
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