Visitors to the Sri Lanka are frequently astounded by some of the driving manoeuvres they witness and the apparent lack of rules on the road. I myself have frequently wondered why, for a nation that rarely rushes for anything, is driving done in such a hurried fashion? However, what often surprises people most is not just the way people here drive, but how it is extremely rare to see drivers (or passengers for that matter) wearing seatbelts.
I am therefore intrigued to see what will happen when the new compulsory seatbelt act becomes law in two months time. I honestly think I can count on one hand the number of times I have seen driver’s wearing them in the ten years I have been coming here.
I even recall one trip some years ago when a friend travelling in the front of a vehicle managed to get trapped because he put the seatbelt on and it had obviously never been used and jammed shut!
The implementation of the law was recently postponed again to allow drivers of older vehicles to have seatbelts fitted. I know from experience that finding people to fit them outside Colombo is not easy either, and I once resorted to looking around car scrap yards for vehicles we could remove some from. My driver on that day was totally bemused by my desire to fit them, so it will be interesting to see how people like him will respond to having to wear one, and how many people will get trapped the first time they try them out…