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S. Korea moving t require seatbelts for all passengers

All News 10:43 July 21, 2016

SEOUL, July 21 (Yonhap) -- South Korea is moving to require automakers to install seatbelt alarms for all passengers in passenger cars, in line with its efforts to spearhead the move at the international level, the government said Thursday.

According to the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transport, the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE) was widely expected to adopt the South Korea-proposed change to its recommendations for car safety that will advise automakers to install seatbelt alarms for all seats in all passenger cars with less than five seats.

The UNECE meeting is scheduled for November.

UNECE recommendations are not binding, but are generally respected, meaning many European countries may begin prohibiting the sale of vehicles with no seatbelt alarms for rear seats, the ministry noted.

The ministry said the country had long wanted to require local automakers to install seatbelt alarms for all passenger seats, but the country's free trade agreement with the European Union prevented such a move as it could work as a non-tariff barrier against European carmakers.

Currently, seatbelt alarms are only required for driver seats and front passenger seats.

However, South Korea already requires all passengers to fasten their seatbelts while driving on expressways. The government recently approved an additional revision to safety regulations that will require seatbelts for all passengers at all times. The move still needs parliamentary approval.

In 2015, only about 27 percent of South Koreans had their seatbelt on while sitting in the rear seat of a passenger car, according to the state-run Korea Transportation Safety Authority. The rate compares with up to 97 percent in many advanced countries, including Japan, Germany and France, it noted.

The safety agency said an average 90 people die each year in car accidents while not wearing their seat belts, accounting for 33 percent of all traffic-related deaths.

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