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Buckle Up!

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Driver or passenger, it is a must to strap on a seatbelt in Singapore. We give you the lowdown on the prevailing seatbelt laws for motor car passengers and drivers.

Some may find it a hassle but putting on a seatbelt, whether you are a driver or passenger in a vehicle, is mandatory in Singapore.

A local study conducted by the Singapore General Hospital in 2019 showed that passengers travelling by car during the morning rush hour (between 7am to 10am) while not wearing any seatbelts stand a higher risk of severe injuries during a road accident.

A startling finding
While this might be a logical, even obvious conclusion, a shocking revelation from the study was that unbelted rear-seat passengers were about 45 per cent more likely to sustain severe injuries such as major head wounds and bleeding caused by pelvic fractures compared to drivers and front-seat passengers!

This is because rear-seat passengers are more prone to be flung forward or thrown out of their seats in the event of an unexpected collision or braking. This is in contrast to the front passenger and driver who are more likely to be belted up and have features such as airbags to break the impact.

The study, supported by the Ministry of Health’s National Trauma Committee, was launched to look into the use of seat belts in Singapore. Results were gathered from a sample size of about 4,600 patients who were admitted to the emergency departments of five public hospitals for treatment as the result of a traffic accident.

Some of the reasons cited by rear seat passengers who do not belt up are the prevailing perceptions of rear seats being somehow safer and seatbelts being uncomfortable. The study also showed that about 60 per cent of backseat passengers opted to not put on their seat belts. Of all passengers who did not belt up, about 50% were rear-seat passengers.

A life-saving law
To make commuting in private cars safer, a traffic law regarding the use of rear seatbelts was introduced 30 years ago in 1993 making wearing it mandatory for rear seat passengers above 1.35 metres in height unless medically exempted.

Passengers below 1.35 metres, mostly children, will be required to be strapped into an approved childseat that is appropriate for their height and weight. The law would be a great companion to the one pertaining to the compulsory use of front seatbelts which came into force almost a decade before in 1981.

Rear-seat passengers caught failing to put on their rear seatbelts are liable for a $120 fine, while the vehicle’s driver would also be fined the same amount as well as given three demerit points. Moreover, if the errant driver is charged in court and convicted, the penalty will be a fine not exceeding $1,000, or an imprisonment not exceeding three months.For the second or subsequent offences, the driver will be fined an amount not exceeding $2,000, or an imprisonment not exceeding six months.

It is also illegal to remove the rear seatbelts and the onus is on the driver to repair the seatbelts as soon as possible upon the detection of any malfunction

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