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This comes at a time when the government is also trying to push through a series of measures to improve road safety in the country
Uber Technologies has asked its drivers in India to ensure that seat belts in the back seats of their vehicles are accessible to passengers and working, days after a local business tycoon died in a crash in his private car.
The move comes amid growing pressure on road safety in India, the world’s fourth-largest auto market. In early September, Cyrus Mistry, the former chairman of India’s Tata Sons, died in a crash in his Mercedes, with local media reporting that he was not wearing a seat belt while sitting in the back.
“To avoid fines or complaints from riders, make sure seat belts in the back seats are accessible and functional,” Uber said in a notice to its drivers on Tuesday, seen by Reuters.
A source with direct knowledge also said Uber has been conducting checks at airports to make sure its drivers are following seat belt standards.
Uber did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Its Indian rival Ola, which is backed by SoftBank Group, has also sent out notices to drivers in recent weeks to enforce seat belt rules, a company representative told Reuters.
This comes as the government is also trying to push through a series of measures to improve road safety in a country that has the world’s most dangerous roads.
The World Bank said last year that India has a road death every four minutes.
India already has rules mandating rear seat passengers to wear seat belts, but few follow them. Enforcement is also poor, although a fine of ₹1,000 (US$12.55) has been imposed for non-compliance.
In most cases, car and taxi owners put seat covers on the back seats, making them unusable.
In its advisory, Uber told drivers to ensure seat belts are installed in the back seats, adding: “If the belt is hidden under the seat cover, remove the cover”.
The Indian government has also said it wants automakers to install an alarm system for rear-seat seat belts to enforce their use and mandate six airbags in all cars.