Ride-hailing company Uber Technologies has asked its drivers in India to ensure that backseat seatbelts in their vehicles are accessible to passengers and that they work, days after a local business tycoon was killed in an accident in his private car.
The move comes as India, the world’s fourth-largest car market, is boosting road safety. In early September, Cyrus Mistry, the former chairman of India’s Tata Sons, died in a crash in his Mercedes, and local media reported that he was not wearing a seatbelt while sitting in the back.
“To avoid any fines or complaints from riders, please make sure seatbelts in the back seat are accessible and functional,” Uber said in an advisory to its drivers on Tuesday that was seen by Reuters.
A source with direct knowledge also said that Uber is checking at airports that its drivers are following seatbelt rules.
Uber did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Its Indian competitor Ola, which is backed by SoftBank Group, sent consultants in recent weeks to enforce seatbelt rules on drivers, a company representative told Reuters.
This comes at a time when the government is trying to take a number of measures to improve road safety in a country with some of the deadliest roads in the world.
The World Bank said last year that one death occurs in India every four minutes.
India already has rules mandating rear-seat passengers to wear seatbelts, but few follow them. Enforcement is also weak despite the provision of fine of Rs. 1,000 for non-compliance.
In many cases, car and taxi owners place seat covers on their back seats above the seat belts, making them inaccessible for use.
Uber asked drivers to make sure backseat seatbelts are on, “If the belt is hidden under the seat cover, please remove the cover.”
The Indian government has also said that car makers should install alarm systems for rear seat belts to enforce their use and make six airbags mandatory in all cars.