Wearing a seat belt could have saved Rural Development Minister Gopinath Munde who died in a road accident, Union Health Minister Harsh Vardhan said on Wednesday and announced a major campaign to spread awareness on observing safety measures while driving.
"Wearing a seat belt could have saved Munde. I lost my friend to a misconception. Most people think that the back-seat belts serve only a decorative purpose. In fact wearing them is as necessary as wearing front seat belts. They can save lives in the event of impacts," said Vardhan before leaving for Beed, Maharashtra to attend the funeral of the deceased minister.
Munde died of multiple internal injuries suffered in a road accident in Central Delhi early Tuesday.
Vardhan informed that the Union health ministry would soon take the initiative to expose the people to safety protocols while driving.
A multi-media campaign in collaboration with NGOs working on safety is being considered, the health minister informed.
Children also tend to worship the wrong role models. Instead of deifying those who drive or bike rashly, they should be exposed to the right way of life, the health minister said.
Vardhan said that Munde died within seconds after his car was allegedly rammed from the side by a motorist who jumped red lights.
"Let us regard the Gopinath Munde tragedy as the turning point. The minister's tragic and untimely death should be a wake up call to all vehicle owners," Vardhan stressed.
The damage to the minister's car was not great, but the force of the throw-forward within the confined space of the car damaged the atlanto axial joint in his neck, and severely injured the spinal cord.
The blood vessels carrying blood supply to the brain stem (which is the seat of respiratory and cardiac centre) got disrupted and this became a cause for immediate cardiac and respiratory arrest. Besides, the liver was ruptured which caused profuse loss of blood, informed Vardhan.
"I feel numbed by the realisation that the nation has lost such a valuable mass leader and able minister with a proven track record in Maharashtra. I now realise the trauma of countless others whose near ones died in car crashes only because they had overlooked the importance of the seat belt," he stated.
Image: A police official inspects the spot where Munde met with an accident. Photograph: PTI