PETALING JAYA: THE Transport Ministry will urge the police and Road Transport Department to strengthen enforcement against rear-seat passengers who do not buckle up. The latest statistics showed that only 7-9% of rear-seat passengers fasten their seatbelt, Transport Minister Datuk Seri Liow Tiong Lai told Sin Chew Daily in an interview published today. This figure is worrying, he said, adding that despite the enforcement, many people do not buckle up, which is an offence that is compoundable for RM300 under the Road Transport Act 1987. He said he will request the RTD and police to work together to raise public awareness on seatbelt laws and enhance enforcement. Pointing out the high rate of road accident fatalities in Malaysia, with an average of 7,000 motorists dying on the road each year, Liow said the government has to raise public awareness on road safety. Enhancing the enforcement of traffic laws is to reduce the number of road accident fatalities and not meant to make it difficult for motorists, he said. He said his top priority is the enforcement of rear seat belt, followed by child safety seats. The government amended the Road Transport Act 1987 in 2008 to make it mandatory for rear-seat passengers to wear seatbelts. The new rule came into force Jan 1, 2009 but it was not enforced until three years later to allow old vehicles without rear seatbelts to install them. On the likelihood of making child safety seat compulsory, Liow said he agreed with the proponents that it will increase the safety of the child but has to take the social impact given that child seats are not cheap. "We are studying other countries' child safety seat laws and are awaiting the latest report by Miros ( Malaysian Institute of Road Safety Research), including the social impact of making child seats mandatory."