DRIVERS and passengers should develop the habit of wearing seatbelts to avoid arrest, says Zambia Police road traffic Division Superintendent Yoram Phiri.
It was common in Lusaka to see drivers and passengers rushing to wear seatbelts when approaching a police roadblock, only to take them off as soon as they pass through.
Mr. Phiri observed that seatbelts were a vital safety component meant to offer protection to vehicle occupants during collisions or sudden stops.
“Seatbelts are important; it is a fact that when a vehicle stops moving objects inside the vehicle remain in motion. Therefore there is a need for restraint,” Mr. Phiri said.
He said drivers and passengers should not wear seatbelt to fool the police but because they valued their lives.
Mr. Phiri urged public vehicle drivers to be responsible and ensure that seatbelts were available and used in front and back seats.
“Seat belts are more important when vehicles overturn and can also stop crash victims from being thrown from their cars; so it is the responsibility of drivers to ensure that passengers are safe; they should provide seatbelts on their buses,” he said.
He noted that failure to wear a seatbelt was a traffic offence that attracted a fine.
However one Lusaka bus driver, Misheck Nthenga, while acknowledging the importance of seatbelts, blamed some traffic police officers whom he accused of being corrupt and falling short in their duties.
“Many drivers, especially bus drivers, see no need to use seatbelts because it won’t help their case when they are stopped by traffic cops.
“Besides, there are many other traffic regulations that are being ignored and wearing a seatbelt is just one of those petty offences,” he said.
Ms Mirriam Mwila, a commuter, suggested that Government should introduce a policy that would ensure that all public service buses had seatbelts on every seat.
“It is sad to note that out of a mini bus with 16 occupants, only two people or none will be wearing seatbelts, leaving the rest exposed to danger when there is an emergency.
“It should be a pre-requisite for buses to have seatbelts on every seat. This will greatly reduce the number of people who get killed in road accidents,” she said.