Police fooled, what about you?

new delhi: seat belts that offer no security but can keep the police at bay are selling at traffic intersections. barely 200 metres from the police headquarters the belts sell for rs 140 a pair. a little haggling can bring the price down to rs 80. the law requires that a seat belt be fitted by a car manufacturer and pass the specifications which make it possible for it to save lives in an accident. the belts selling on the street do nothing of the sort. the police have not begun fining people for not wearing seat belts, but they expect to begin doing so pretty soon once the delhi government gives its okay. at the ito crossing, near our offices and close to the police hq, a hawker by the name of vijay claimed to have sold 10 pairs of belts in a few hours. he was giving free clamps for fixing the belts on the car interior. ‘‘any mechanic can fix it. you can get it done where you go for your tyre pressure checks. go to khan market or panchkuian road... you will find them them in plenty,’’ vijay said. as one haggled for a better bargain, vijay played his trump card,‘‘arrey le lo sahab, ek tariq se chalan hoga (take it, or else you’ll be challaned from february 1 onwards).’’ surprised, one asked who told him so. ‘‘the traffic policemen told us. they say, make a killing now, you have a good opportunity,’’ said another seller, who was offering a grey-coloured version of the usually-black belts. however, joint commissioner of police (traffic), maxwell pereira, said on tuesday evening,‘‘we haven’t yet issued any specific date for seat-belt prosecutions.’’ at the tilak bridge intersection, as one haggled for only one belt, the hawkers advised,‘‘you have to fix it for both front seats. take two.’’ when one shows interest in buying only one of the two, a hawker insists,‘‘take both, or else you’ll be challaned.’’ such seat belts are being sold at several places all over the city. while a noida crossing hawker asks for rs 125, lajpat nagar hawkers manage to get rs 150. ‘‘these seat belts are harmful as they can curl and cut through one’s stomach, in the case of a heavy impact. the kidneys and liver can be damaged if they act as sharp ropes,’’ said dinesh mohan, professor at iit-delhi’s transportation research and injury prevention programme. a seat belt is supposed to hold a person in place even when the impact is huge. ‘‘only a specialised set belt has specially designed buckles. only two-three agencies in the country manufacture them,’’ mohan said. r k parimoo, director of institute of driving, training and research said,‘‘if the specifications regarding strength, type of material and strength at the joints are not met, the belts could cause more damage than protecting the user.’’ agrees rohit baluja, chief of institute of road traffic education,‘‘seat belts can’t be sold like this. they are just being sold and will be worn to fool the policemen. instead of using such seat belts, one should get them fitted through their car-manufacturers.’’

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