Should seatbelts be mandatory on all forms of transport?

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 04 June, 2008, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 04 June, 2008, 12:00am

Each week our two teenagers debate a hot topic. This week ...

Dennis Wu, 17, St Joseph's College

I think it's fair to say that most of us agree that seatbelts, if properly worn, could save lives in accidents. However, while seatbelts are feasible on vehicles like private cars, taxis and minibuses, it is harder to bring them in on some other forms of transport. For instance, how are we going to introduce seatbelts to the MTR, one of the most widely used forms of transport in Hong Kong?

City-dwellers like you and me know very well how painful it is to travel during rush hours, with the long queues and ridiculous waiting times. Introducing seatbelts would only aggravate the situation. Instead of just getting up and walking off the train when it arrives at a station, passengers would have to first unfasten their seatbelts. That may not seem much but on the grand scale this would mean more train delays.

I have no doubt that seatbelts are needed on taxis and minibuses because of the ludicrous speeds drivers tend to drive at, but are they really necessary on trains? Accidents aren't frequent and on those few occasions they do occur, seatbelts would not have helped. The procedures and controls of railways are fully automated, meaning a crash involving two trains is extremely unlikely.

Seatbelts do save lives but they aren't always useful. If this is to be done it should be done on a case by case basis instead of mandating all companies to introduce them.

Esther Pang, 16, Diocesan Girls' School

Nowadays, whether we're travelling a short distance or to the other side of the city, cars, trains and ferries seem to be the best option for getting somewhere fast. But with the majority of the city's population on the roads, and so many impatient drivers around, transport isn't as safe as we might think.

Examples of the potential dangers of transport can be seen on the news every day, with car crashes, trees hitting buses and malfunctioning brakes. A while ago there was the case of a passenger being thrown head first into a river when a minibus crashed.

Accidents are sudden and sometimes unavoidable, but it's logical to do our best to minimise the damage done to ourselves. Simply wearing seatbelts could prevent us from being injured when the vehicle we are on jerks or swerves.

Seatbelts have been made mandatory for taxis and minibuses. But buses, ferries and, yes, even trains, are forms of transportation that can face the same risks. Before scoffing at the idea of fitting the MTR with seatbelts just think of the numerous times when the MTR suddenly jerked and even those sitting fell into each other.

Currently buses and ferries have seatbelts installed in the front rows, though people generally find them too much trouble to put on. Passengers in the back rows are in no less danger than those in front. Seatbelts should be mandatory on all transport. Whether passengers use them or not, it's their choice.