Transport Minister Datuk Seri Ong Tee Keat said yesterday the exemption on the rear seat belt ruling is only given to vehicles registered before Jan 1, 1995, those registered after that date but were not equipped with the anchorage points for seat belts, are commercial vehicles like buses, taxis and hired cars.

Owners of vehicles registered after Jan 1, 1995 and with anchorage points but not equipped with rear seat belts, however, are given three years from next Jan 1, to install the seat belts.

He said under the new rear seat belt ruling, the driver would be held responsible if the rear passengers were found not wearing their seat belts.

Ong said this in his speech at the launch of the installation of rear seat belt programme at the Proton Platinum Centre, Mutiara Damansara, here, yesterday.

His speech text was read by Transport Ministry Deputy Secretary-General Datuk Long See Wool.

Ong also advised the public to make it a habit to wear seat belts, not only to avoid legal action, but also to protect themselves and their loved ones during accidents.

Thus, as a reminder to the public, he said a mock enforcement programme would be conducted, starting on Dec 15, where the police and the Road Transport Department (JPJ) would issue a “warning notice” to private vehicle drivers whose rear passengers were found not wearing seat belts.

Currently, Ong said the government was implementing an advocacy campaign to enhance public awareness on the new ruling.

During the advocacy period, members of the JPJ, police, Road Safety Department (JKJR) and the Road Safety Council had conducted various campaigns at the toll plazas, rest and service areas as well as in the public areas nationwide.

The campaign was also supported by the public service advertisement in the electronic and print media.

Ong said between January and October this year, the road safety rate in the country recorded an increase compared to the corresponding period last year.

He said the death toll involving car drivers and passengers had declined by 7.6 per cent, pedestrians 6.2 per cent, buses 52.3 per cent, vans 29.1 per cent and other vehicles 33.9 per cent, from the death toll recorded in 2007.

“Only the death toll for motorcycle riders and pillions has yet to be successfully reduced because the rate had increased by 14.2 per cent between January and October this year compared to the corresponding period last year,” he said.

Ong, however, said that injury cases among motorcycle riders and pillions had reduced by 6.6 per cent.

“Overall, the initiatives and road safety programmes which have been implemented so far revealed a positive impact,” he added. — New Sabah Times