Starting 1 January, lap belts will be banned from being installed in all passenger vehicles under a new ruling by the Transport Ministry
The lap belts, also known as the two-point belt and normally found in the centre rear seat of a car and express buses, will be replaced with three-point seat belts.
According to a report in NST Online, manufacturers who do not comply will not be able to market their vehicles as such vehicles would be declared "not road worthy" under the new standard that will be included in the Vehicle Type Approval Permit (VTA).
The reason for the ban on lap belts is that while they can save passengers from being thrown out of the vehicle in an accident, the pressure it puts on the body can cause serious injury or death
"The risks associated with lap belts include severing the lower torso and causing serious injuries to women who have had a Caesarean section," said Mohamad Dalib, the Automotive Engineering Director at Road Transport Department.
There are several common injuries linked to the usage of lap belts.
Some of which include injuries such as contusions to the abdominal wall, kidney and bladder damage, rupture of the mesenteries, small intestines, aorta, spleen and uterus, including fractured ribs, pelvis and lumbar vertebra.
There also have been cases of passenger using lap belts being paralysed and even death, Dalib said, adding that crash impact tests have shown the need for lap belts to be replaced with three-point seatbelts.
Technically, lap belts should actually not be in any passenger vehicles in Malaysia that were manufactured from 2012 onwards
Because Malaysia adopted the United Nation Vehicle Regulations R14 and R16 (related to seatbelts), which were incorporated in the Road Transport Rules (construction and use) 1959, in 2007 and 2011.
"We have given industry players a lot of time to prepare. Cars manufactured from January that are still fitted with the lap belt will be considered not roadworthy, and we will not approve its VTA," NST Online quoted Mohamad Dalib as saying.
The Transport Department will, however, allow owners of passenger vehicles with lap belts to retain them until they are phased out
As it's not possible to retrofit the vehicles without compromising its structural strength, the owners of vehicles with lap belts will not be forced to make the switch.