The innocent looking "bench seat" placed besides the driver in the front row of jeep-type vehicles has been found as one of the main culprits for the rising number of road accidents so much so that the Maharashtra Transport Commissioner's Office and has asked the Centre to get it removed for proving to be an obstruction to the driver.
Most of the manufacturers of jeep-type vehicles are providing bench seat in the front besides the driver.
"As there are three persons in front row, including the driver, the leg of the person sitting in the middle obstructs the changing of gear levers.
After taking a ride occupying the bench seat, it has been found that the seat at the front row is really dangerous at the time of overtaking as well as in case of emergency gear changing and during night journey," says Shyamsunder Shinde, Maharashtra's transport commissioner.
"The bench seat arrangement is one of the reasons for accidents and that it is requested to direct technical agencies to take into section 125 of Motor Vehicles Act, 1988, while issuing the compliance certificate," states Shinde in a letter to the joint secretary, ministry of Road Transport and Highways.
"Even though, there is a provision for these bench seats, legally it is not allowed for three people to sit in the front.
Hence we have recommended removal of the bench seat itself," Shinde told HT.
Section 125 of the Motor Vehicles Act, 1988, is about "Obstruction of driver" stating "no person driving a motor vehicle shall allow any person to stand or sit or to place anything in such a manner or position as to hamper the driver in his control of the vehicle."
"It is the opinion of the transport commissioner's office, but there's no conclusive proof to prove it.
In fact there's need to have database on how and why accidents happen in reality," KK Gandhi, executive director of Society of Indian Automobile Manufacturers (SIAM) told HT from Delhi.
SIAM, an apex industry body representing 38 leading vehicle and vehicular engine manufacturers in India, was one of the bodies that took tests on vehicles along with the state transport commissioner.
Email Rajendra Aklekar: email@example.com