Most drivers belt up on Day 1

new delhi: delhi's drivers, finally, seem to be taking to seat belts. at least, that is what the traffic police found on friday, the first day of enforcement of the seat belt rule. the law makes it mandatory for drivers and front-seat passengers to use the seat belt. the traffic police said the compliance rate was as high as 90 per cent. only 610 drivers were challaned till 6 p.m. they expected the figure to reach the 1,000 mark by late night, but considering the number of vehicles on the road, the violation rate is minuscule. about 150 people die in accidents on delhi's roads every month, with thrice this number sustaining injuries. this figure is one of the highest in the country. last december, the supreme court made the seat belt law mandatory for everyone driving a post-march 1994 car. a violation imposes a fine of rs 100. "people, it seems, are not taking any chances," said joint police commissioner (traffic) maxwell periera. but the figures, the police admitted, may not be completely reflective of the drivers' concern for safety. dozens, said officers, could be flouting the rule while moving. but even so, delhiites, for the first time, seem to be backing the police. "i don't think any other traffic measure has been so successfully implemented than the seat belt rule," said ritu chahal, a history professor who drives to maitreyi college every day. agreed sumit khanna: "they have succeeded not because of the fine. it seems awareness for safety measures is rising among drivers." as regards violators, a legal lapse became apparent on the first day. some of the violations were by drivers of cars registered before march 1994. about 50 per cent of delhi's cars are probably manufactured before 1994. "it won't be easy finding out the manufacturing year while cars are moving. we can only stop and ask for the registration certificate," dcp (traffic) sbs tyagi said. but pereira said though such cars don't fall in the legal net, they are being encouraged to install and wear seat belts as safety was essential for all

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