A seat-belt warning canceller in the shape of a gun.

IT’s as lethal as a knife or gun, but you can buy it on-line for just RM15.

Freely sold in accessory shops, it is known as a seat belt alarm canceller or stopper.

The device is used to defeat the seatbelt alarm in cars equipped with seat belt reminders (SBRs) by disabling the audio and visual warnings.

Recently, a man was killed when his car crashed on the Seremban-Port Dickson highway.

Bernama quoted Port Dickson District police chief Superintent Zainudin Ahmad as saying based on initial investigations, the accident was believed to have occurred when the Mitsubishi Lancer skidded and hit the metal road divider,

“The accident caused the victim to be thrown from his vehicle,” the agency quoted Zainudin as saying.

What was worrying is that pictures circulated on the Internet after the incident, purportedly of the interior of the Lancer, showed a decoy seatbelt clip fastened in the seat belt receptacle.

While it has not been proven that such a device was used in the recent case, the question was raised as to why the government hasn’t come down hard on the device.

Seat belt reminders have been compulsory since 2012, and cancellers effectively nullify their ability to save lives.

“The whole seat belt assembly has been gazzeted under UNR 16. It is a mandatory requirement covering the seat belt webbing, retractor, upper and lower anchor, seat belt reminder and seat belt indicator. It has been mandatory since 2012,” said Malaysia Automotive Institute (MAI) chief executive officer Datuk Madani Sahari.

All cars sold since that year had been equipped with the full seat belt assembly, he added.

A recent study by Miros entitled “Association Of Seatbelt Reminders (SBRs) With Seatbelt Wearing Rates Among Front Occupants Of Private Vehicles In Klang Valley”, illustrated how a simple system like an SBR could result in much improved seat belt usage, and consequently save lives.

The study measured differences in wearing rates of drivers and front passengers with and without SBRs. The study also compared wearing rates among visual-only and audiovisual reminders.

The study revealed startling results with drivers in vehicles fitted with SBRs two times more likely to wear a seatbelt than those in vehicles without the warning. It was also found that seatbelt using rates were higher for audiovisual SBRs compared to just the visual ones.

About 80.8 per cent of the respondents queried in the survey agreed that the SBR system was an important car safety feature.

“It is hoped through the standard fitment of this technology in Malaysian passenger vehicles, seatbelt wearing among Malaysian would positively increase,” concluded the study.

The authors added that the findings from the case study “strongly justify the inclusion of SBRs into Asean NCAP rating. One of the recommendations highlighted is to include the SBR as compulsory four-star and five-star prerequisites for front passenger seats and rear passenger seats (second row and beyond), respectively.”

With the statistics in, the authorities should take steps to introduce SBRs as a mandatory safety feature in all cars sold in Malaysia.

But many imported cars sold in Malaysia already have them as a standard safety feature. So the next step would be to ban the sale of these dangerous devices in accessory shops and online outlets in Malaysia.

But perhaps we don’t even have to wait for legislation. Every Malaysian with an SBR-equipped car should be aware of how dangerous this seemingly innocuous device is and not purchase it.

Madani said: “The government is working hard to improve the affordability of safety technology in cars sold in Malaysia. We have achieved numerous milestones since the National Automotive Policy 2014 (NAP2014) was announced, with Malaysia now becoming a signatory to the UNECE World Forum for Harmonisation of Vehicle Regulations.

He added that ISOFIX anchors and airbags had become standard features of all cars, including entry level models.

However, even the best regulations and safety features could not replace awareness and responsibility on the drivers’ behalf, he said.

“The use of devices to circumvent features that are designed to protect the lives of vehicle occupants is extremely tragic, and defeats the efforts of carmakers and makers policy to maximise safety in vehicle operations,” he said.

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