Seat Belt Policy

The science of seat belt safety

When you sit in a moving vehicle you and the vehicle are two separate objects moving at the same speed. If the vehicle you are in hits an object such as a post, tree etc; another vehicle, pedestrian, or animal; or rolls over, it stops. However, inside the vehicle unrestrained occupants (driver or passengers not wearing a seat belt) continue to move forward at the same speed the vehicle was traveling until something causes their body to stop – the windshield/windscreen, steering wheel, dashboard, seat, another occupant, or the pavement outside the vehicle.

In Pakistan the current law mandates seat belt wearing by the driver only.

Part II Section (v) of the 8th Schedule to the National Highways Safety Ordinance states that a driver shall not drive a vehicle without seatbelts fitted.

Section 89-B (1) of the PMVO states that a person driving a motor car, motor cab, light or heavy transport vehicle must have a fastened seatbelt. The penalty for a driver detected not wearing a seat belt is a 300 rupee fine.

Passenger safety

Although current law only requires drivers to wear a seat belt, during a crash or sudden harsh braking event the use of seat belts by front and rear seat passengers directly affects the level of injury to themselves, to other passengers and to the driver.

An unrestrained passenger poses a serious threat to any restrained person. Front and rear seat passengers who use seat belts not only reduce the likelihood and severity of injury to themselves, but also to others travelling in the vehicle.

How a seat belt keeps you safe

There are three ‘collisions’ that occur in every crash where vehicle occupants are unrestrained:

  • The first collision involves the vehicle and another object, e.g. another vehicle, a stationary object (light pole, signpost, barrier, ditch), or a human or animal.
  • The second collision occurs when the unrestrained occupant keeps moving at the same speed at which the vehicle was travelling before the crash until it hits the vehicle interior, another occupant or is ejected from the vehicle and hits the pavement or road furniture etc.
  • The third collision occurs when the vital organs (heart, lungs, liver, kidneys, and brain) inside the unrestrained body keep moving until they hit against the chest wall or skeletal structure.

The second collision is responsible for most deaths and injuries. These can be reduced significantly by seat belt use.

A seat belt is made from flexible webbing that expands slightly to absorb crash force. During a crash, vehicle occupants wearing a seat belt will be kept in their seat and thus their body will reduce speed at the same rate as the vehicle. Crash forces are spread through the seat belt and over the body, and so vital organs inside the body are protected.