Roadsters told to buckle up or face fines
DRIVERS be warned: Police will start enforcing a K30,000 (US$23) fine for not wearing a seatbelt starting on January 1.
Yangon traffic police and AYA Myanmar Insurance launched an awareness campaign earlier this month in order to promote seatbelt usage, a long-neglected road safety measure.
“According to international surveys, wearing a seatbelt while driving can reduce injuries by up to 45 percent in cases where accidents occur,” said Colonel Kyaw Myo Myint from No 9 northern traffic police force.
He added that seatbelts are already legally mandated under the Motor Vehicle Law, which passed in September 2015. Under the law, both drivers and passengers are required to wear a seatbelt or could be held liable with a fine.
To end pervasive flouting of the seatbelt requirement, on November 1 traffic police kicked off a warning period – checking which drivers are using seatbelts and which are not, and informing them of the obligation to do so.
On November 11, police started checking highway express buses as well.
About 520,000 of the country’s 840,000 vehicles are based in Yangon Region. Many drivers do not use seatbelts, according to recent official estimates. Nearly 3500 people were killed in automobile accidents between the start of this year and September 30, according to a report from the Myanmar Police Force.
“Experts predict that the numbers of vehicles will increase in 2017 and we need more road safety measures,” said Ko Soe Hein, general manager at AYA Myanmar Insurance. “We will continue the campaign in some townships of Yangon. Some drivers may think that campaigns are nothing but the aim is to make things safe for all.”
Many of the vehicles imported to Myanmar lack seatbelts. But starting on January 1, the Road Transport Administration Department will not permit the registration or re-registration of vehicles that do not have seatbelts, said Transportation Minister U Thant Sin Maung.
Myanmar’s roads are among the most dangerous in Southeast Asia. Road traffic deaths rose from 4313 in 2014 to 4420 last year. According to the Myanmar Police Force in Nay Pyi Taw, so far this year there has been an average of 43.85 accidents and 12.75 road deaths per day. The National Road Safety Council hopes to halve the death rate by 2020.
‘Wearing a seatbelt ... can reduce injuries by up to 45 percent in cases where accidents occur.’
Colonel Kyaw Myint
No 9 northern traffic police
“We favour focusing on that [seatbelts] factor as it is already included in the Motor Vehicles Law,” Col Kyaw Myo Myint said. “As specified in the law, every driver must use a seatbelt and obey the traffic laws, or face police action.”
Taking further steps along the epicentre of lethal road accidents in Myanmar, the Yangon-Mandalay highway, the government plans to install rest stations. The stops will be spaced out every 50 miles (80 kilometres).
“The government built this highway so that drivers can reach their destination in a short time,” Col Kyaw Myo Myint said. “But the drivers get sleepy and there are no surrounding places to stop and get rest.”
The police say there has been an average of nearly 44 accidents per day on the nation’s roads this year.