Big SUV sale should stop in India. Why Global NCAP chief thinks they are risky
- According to Global NCAP, the global safety rating agency for new vehicles, big SUVs pose more threat to pedestrians than smaller cars.
Big and heavy SUVs may be a bragging right for many owners, but they are not necessarily safe when it comes to pedestrians or the environment. Global NCAP, the safety rating agency for new vehicles around the world, shared its opinion on increasing popularity of SUVs and the challenges that come with it. At an event held in Delhi on Tuesday, the Global NCAP also said that governments should discourage sale of large and heavy SUVs. The SUV segment in India currently holds the highest market share. Small to big SUVs have increasingly pushed back smaller cars as the backbone of the Indian auto industry in recent years.
The remarks on why big SUVs are not necessarily safe came during an event organised by Institute of Road Traffic Education (IRTE). David Ward, Executive President at Global NCAP, said that while the Centre has taken several steps to increase road safety, it needs to take more measures to reduce chances of fatal road accidents. "The car industry's relentless push to sell ever larger and heavier SUVs is bad news for road safety, but particularly for those driving smaller, more (fuel) efficient vehicles, and vulnerable road users," Ward said.
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Ward elaborated on his concerns by using example of how big SUVs have larger bonnets that pose a threat to pedestrians and other vulnerable road users. According to him, this factor increases risk of fatal injuries. Ward said that chance of a medium-sized SUV causing fatal injury is one third compared to a big SUV. He said a pedestrian or cyclist hit by an SUV with a bonnet as high as 90 cm has 30 per cent chance of fatal injury than a car with a bonnet at 10 cm height or lower.
SUVs in India are usually four meters in length or less. Big SUVs usually stand more than four metres in length. In India, some of the big SUVs which are popular include the likes of Toyota Fortuner, Mahindra Scorpio-N and XUV700, Tata Safari among others. SUV manufacturers like Mahindra and Mahindra and Tata Motors have seen demands for their large SUVs soar in recent times. Ward said, “Increasing growth and demand for SUVs in India and other countries is a major road safety and environmental challenge, the governments should discourage sale of these big vehicles."
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Ward's remarks may seem ironic as the Global NCAP have rated big SUVs, made in India, as some of the safest cars in the country. In the latest crash tests, the agency ruled that Tata Safari and Harrier are the safest cars in India right now. The list of top 10 safest cars in India, as rated by Global NCAP, has eight SUVs. Three of them, including the Safari, XUV700 and Scorpio-N, are big SUVs.