Cyrus Mistry death: High speed or safety ignorance? Accident triggers debate
Cyrus Mistry, former Chairman of Tata Motors, was not wearing his seatbelt at the time when the Mercedes-Benz GLC in which he was traveling in met with an accident. The preliminary investigation has revealed that Mistry and one other occupant in the rear seat were killed when the GLC hit a divider of a bridge over River Surya. Mistry was killed on the spot. His death has triggered yet another road safety debate which has raised several questions including speed limits on highway, airbag deployment and seatbelt protection.
The preliminary probe by Maharashtra Police hints at high speed of the Mercedes-Benz GLC as one of the possible causes behind the accident. According to the police, the Mercedes GLC covered a distance of 20 km in just nine minutes after crossing the Charoti check post in Maharashtra's Palghar district, about 120 kms away from Mumbai. "As per preliminary investigation, over-speeding and the error of judgement caused the car accident. While analysing the footage captured by CCTV cameras at the Charoti check post, Palghar police found the car had crossed the check post at 2.21 pm and the accident took place 20 km ahead (in the direction of Mumbai)," he said.
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Mistry's death has sparked calls for stricter monitoring of speeding vehicles on Indian roads. According to the latest NCRB report on road accidents in India, more than 85,000 people among the 1.56 lakh deaths happened due to speeding vehicles.
The second key observation was Mistry and his co-occupant not wearing seat belts although both were sitting on the rear seats. "Both the deceased were not wearing seat belts," said one of the officials. All cars offered in India come equipped with mandatory seatbelts for rear passengers as well. However, in most cases, rear passengers do not wear seatbelts and is often an overlooked safety hazard in case of accidents. Mistry's death once again points to the ignorance of seatbelt's importance even in backseats of a car.
A third aspect highlighted after Mistry's tragic death is the importance of airbags for rear passengers. It is yet to be ascertained whether the Mercedes Mistry was travelling in deployed airbags in time and whether it could have prevented in loss of lives. The Centre will soon make it mandatory for all cars to be equipped with at least six airbags although this won't necessarily include airbags in the front headrests meant for rear passengers. However, a few carmakers have raised questions over the move in a country where people mostly buy small cars. It is still an ongoing debate on the practicality of fitting six airbags in small cars, besides the overall cost burden on the customers as well.