Union Transport Minister Mr. Nitin Gadkari announced through a series of tweets that 6 airbags will soon be mandatory in vehicles. Airbags are basically a deterrent in case of an accident, ensuring passenger safety and fewer lives at the stake of being lost. It also means lesser injuries or grave injuries to the occupant. Over a period of time, the government has been incorporating many safety features in the Road and Transport sector from seat belts to ABS and now airbags to increase the stability of the vehicle.
Message from the Series of Tweets
In a bid to minimize road mishap deaths, a big step has been planned towards passengers’ safety by proposing additional airbags to be mandated in ‘M1’ vehicle category (5–8-seater vehicles), tweeted Mr. Gadkari. The government has approved the Draft GSR Notification to make a minimum of 6 airbags mandatory for vehicles carrying up to 8 passengers, as informed by Mr. Gadkari.
The move to mandate 6 Airbags comes just right after the government and union Minister Mr. Nitin Gadkari had mandated that there should be an airbag in the driver’s seat, the fitment of which was implemented with effect from July 1, 2019, and from January 1, 2022 front co-passenger airbag was also made mandatory across all passenger vehicles.
In a series of tweets, the Road Transport & Highway Minister has announced via his official Twitter Handle that the ministry has taken preventive measures in the past as well to ensure road safety and the safety of passengers. He added saying that the move to mandate 6 airbags will ultimately ensure the safety of passengers across all segments, irrespective of the cost/variant of the vehicle.
Government’s Road Safety Move
The government has taken these measures in the view to minimize the impact of frontal and lateral collisions on the occupants seated in both front and rear compartments. With 4 additional airbags be mandated in the ‘M1’ vehicle category i.e 2 side/side torso airbags and 2 side curtain/tube airbags covering all outboard passengers, this crucial step will make India’s motor vehicles safer than ever.
The government is however set to increase the cost of new vehicles by at least ₹8,000 to ₹9,000. A report said that the cost of each airbag would be around ₹1800, excluding the modification charges in vehicles. This would mean that with 6 airbags an entry-level model’s cost price would increase by around ₹30,000 covering all costs.
This road safety move also favors Global NCAP’s ‘Safer Cars for India’ campaign and promotes a safe motoring culture in India.
Why Do Vehicles in India Need Mandate on More Airbags?
India is one of the top countries, registering alarming high numbers of road accidents every year. With traffic violations cited as a major reason behind the mishaps, inadequate safety measures cause a wide number of deaths. As per NCRB Data, 17,538 car occupants died in road mishaps, accounting for about 13% of total road fatalities in India.
Companies that sell the same model cars in the global market choose to cut down on key security features like airbags when they launch them in India’s price-sensitive market. More airbags are needed in the wake to soften the impact of collisions by keeping the vehicle occupants from coming in contact with the steering wheel, dashboard, front glass, and other parts of the automobile, making the vehicle extra safe.
Challenges in Implementing the Proposed Airbags Mandate
More airbags as standard will inevitably drive up the cost of the vehicles, including those on the budget end of the market.
Most carmakers in India offer 6 airbags only in the top-end models and in the variants that cost ₹10 lakh and upwards because typically a frontal airbag at entry-level would cost between ₹5,000-10,000 and the side & curtain airbags would cost more than double of that. Not only that, installing additional airbags would mean re-engineering and including modifications to the body shell and the inside compartment for the airbags to deploy effectively and safely, which again would drive up the costs.
With rising input and operational costs, plus stricter emission norms coming up by 2022-2023, manufacturers argue that very few consumers are willing to shell out more for a safer car.
Although this means that the overall brunt of the expense falls onto the consumers. Having said that safety is of prime importance. Considering the same, this move is surely getting the heads up from auto experts and car enthusiasts, taking into account the current Indian road safety scenario and the value of the lives of the occupants.
Mr. Gadkari sure is working hard towards the progress and advancement of the Indian Auto Market and is quite famed for his determination for the same, he is also setting some real ambitious targets as well.
In the end, while the cars will become more expensive with this move, they are also going to get a lot safer.