The new traffic law to make driving safer came into effect on July 1, but police continues to fine several hundreds of motorists for various violations.

A big change in the law was that it became mandatory for passengers in the back seat also to wear seatbelts. Dubai Police has fined 190 people for not wearing seatbelts on the first three days of the law coming into effect.

The law holds the driver responsible if passengers are not wearing seatbelts. A police officer must be present to issue fines to those not wearing seatbelts in the back seat. Roadside radars can capture and fine front seat violators.

Wearing seat belts is crucial for all occupants in a car. The seatbelt could be the factor between life and death in the event of a crash. Over the years, police have educated drivers and passengers on the need to wear them. At present, about 70 per cent of drivers wear seatbelts.

However, an alarmingly high number of motorists still do not. Before the new law came into effect, only a small minority of passengers in the back seat wore seatbelts — the majority believing it was unnecessary.

The urge to travel and drive safely must come from within. Safety should be the responsibility of every motorist and passenger. The law can act as a deterrent and hold serial offenders accountable, but in the end, we, as a community, must be responsible for our own welfare.

The argument that there are not enough police patrols to enforce the law is flawed and ironic. Why should a police force have to be present in big numbers to ensure that a motorist, an adult, cares for his own safety and that of his passengers? Holding a driving licence means the person is a responsible adult. Accidents can happen, but having scant regard for safety is unacceptable. The law highlights that an errant motorist must not hold a licence because he is a threat to himself and others on the road. Not wearing seatbelts, speeding, tailgating, swerving in and out of lanes are dangerous offences that can lead to fatalities. Many drivers even stop midway to take a closer look at an accident, but as they pull away, they drive recklessly. If the sight of tragedy and destruction does not drill sense into them, then harsh laws are essential to maintain road safety.

It is a comment on each of us that laws had to be stiffened to ensure road safety, which should be a basic feature of a civilised community. Safety is our collective responsibility.