Seat belt could have saved the life of Munde


Gujarat Global News Network, Delhi

The Union Health and Family Welfare Minister, Dr Harsh Vardhan has said that the late Shri Gopinath Munde could have prevented his own death by simply wearing the seat belt of his car.

Before leaving for Beed, Maharashtra for attending the funeral of the deceased Rural Development Minister, Dr Harsh Vardhan commented, “I lost my friend to a misconception. Most people think that the back-seat belts serve only a decorative purpose. In fact wearing them is as necessary as wearing front seat belts. They can save lives in the event of impacts.”

On Tuesday, Gopinath Munde, died within seconds of his car being allegedly rammed from the side by a motorist who jumped lights. The damage to the Minister’s car was not great, but the force of the throw-forward within the confined space of the car damaged the atlanto axial joint in his neck, and severely injured the spinal cord.

The blood vessels carrying blood supply to the brain stem (which is the seat of respiratory and cardiac centre) got disrupted and this became a cause for immediate cardiac and respiratory arrest. Besides, the liver was ruptured which caused profuse loss of blood, informed the Health Minister.

“I feel numbed by the realization that the nation has lost such a valuable mass leader and able minister with a proven track record in Maharashtra. I now realize the trauma of countless others whose near ones died in car crashes only because they had overlooked the importance of the seat belt”, the Health Minister said.

The Health Minister added that there have been many famous accident victims of this small but fatal negligence. In August 1997, Princess Diana of Britain died when the car in which she was speeding crashed against a pillar of an underground pass in Paris. Later it was confirmed that of the four inmates of the ill-fated car, the lone survivor, bodyguard Trevor Rees Jones, owed his escape to the fact that he wore a seat belt whereas the others – Princess Diana, her fiancé Dodi Fayed and driver Henri Paul – had all neglected wearing it, he stated.

Closer home in 2007, Sahib Singh Verma, a former Chief Minister of Delhi who was also a Cabinet Minister in Atal Bihari Vajpayee’s government, died in a road accident after a collision with a truck. He too could have lived had he been wearing a seat belt, Dr Harsh Vardhan stated.

“It is a fallacy that Mundeji could have been saved because he had been found sitting inside the car and not thrown out. Actually the damage to the human body is often greater when the victim is not ejected from the vehicle. Internal organs are badly damaged then and scientific tests have proved that wearing safety belts give them hope of survival,” Dr Harsh Vardhan said.

Dr Harsh Vardhan remarked, “Seat belts when worn correctly save lives. Research in the UK has shown that wearing a seat belt reduces the risk of fatal injury to front seat passenger car occupants by 45 percent, and risk of moderate-to-critical injury by 50 percent. For those riding in the rear of vans and sport-utility vehicles (SUVs) during a car crash, rear seat belts are 73 percent better at preventing fatalities. Also, children are likely to be buckled 92 percent of the time when adults in the car use seat belts, as opposed to 72 percent of the time when adults are not using them.”

The Health Minister observed that the level of ignorance of the utility of safety belts is alarming. “Many car owners cover the back seats of their cars with attractive cloth or other material to give comfort. In the process the seat belts get concealed. This fallacy is doubtless causing a lot of accident deaths”, he said.

The Minister recalled from history that by 1955, most developed countries had announced compulsory car seat belts. Their governments made rules to standardise the manufacturing of seat belts. In contrast, India made seat belts compulsory only after the passing of the Motor Vehicles Act, 1989. It is still not seriously implemented, the Health Minister added.
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