In The Interest Of Public Safety: Six Airbags In Big Cars To Become Mandatory From October

by Arun Kumar Das - Jan 15, 2022 04:44 AM
In The Interest Of Public Safety: Six Airbags In Big Cars To Become Mandatory From OctoberUnion Minister Nitin Gadkari. (Sushil Kumar/Hindustan Times via Getty Images)
Snapshot
  • While the move, irrespective of cost and variant, which was announced by Union Minister Nitin Gadkari, is aimed at improving the safety of passengers in the rear seats, it will push up the cost by at least Rs 8,000 to 10,000 per vehicle.

In a safety measure, the Road Transport Ministry has proposed mandatory installation of six airbags in all cars with seating capacity of up to eight persons from October this year.

While the move, irrespective of cost and variant, which was announced by Union Minister Nitin Gadkari, is aimed at improving the safety of passengers in the rear seats, it will push up the cost by at least Rs 8,000 to 10,000 per vehicle.

Cost may be a little higher for vehicles with lower demand.

A draft notification was issued by the ministry barely two weeks after airbags for driver and the front seat passenger became mandatory for all new cars.

"To minimize the impact of frontal and lateral collisions to the occupants seated in both front and rear compartments, it has been decided that four additional airbags be mandated in the M1 (cars) vehicle category: two side/ side torso airbags and two side curtain/tube airbags covering all outboard passengers. This is a crucial step to make motor vehicles in India safer than ever," Gadkari tweeted.

According to the road accident data published by the National Crime Records Bureau, 17,538 car occupants died in road crashes in 2020, which accounts to around 13 per cent of the total road fatalities in the country.

While the ministry’s thrust to improve occupant safety in cars is seen as a progressive move, what remains a concern is the poor compliance of seatbelt wearing by occupants on the rear seats despite it’s being mandatory as per law.

This is because the efficiency of the airbags is more only when the passengers wear seatbelts.

Besides, the government allows three-wheelers to ply on the roads and Gadkari was himself instrumental in legalizing electric rickshaws in the country, which come with few safety features.

Government sources said the Indian automobile industry has been traditionally reluctant to go for change. It took almost three years to implement the mandatory double airbag for driver and front seat passenger in the cars for the ministry.

Arun Kumar Das is a senior journalist covering railways. He can be contacted at akdas2005@gmail.com.


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