Don't hesitate, cooperate: Nitin Gadkari to car manufacturers on airbag issue
Union Minister Nitin Gadkari has once again put the spotlight on the need to improve safety standards in passenger vehicles (PVs) manufactured in India and for customers here. Highlighting that even locally-made cars for overseas markets are getting six airbags while this isn't exactly the practice for units meant for the local market, Gadkari urged manufacturers to focus in this crucial aspect.
India ranks high in the list of countries with the most number of road accidents and deaths caused by such unfortunate incidents. While there are several factors contributing to the alarming statistics, better safety offered by PVs here is now believed to be absolutely essential. “Majority of automobile manufacturers in India are exporting cars with 6 airbags. But in India, because of the economic model and cost, they are hesitating," Gadkari said whuile addressing the annual session of Automotive Component Manufacturers Association of India (ACMA). “We need cooperation of the automobile industry in reducing accidents. There should be healthy competition among manufacturers to produce safer cars."
Gadkari has also said that the central government is planning to make a minimum of six airbags in cars offered in the Indian market mandatory, regardless of segment, variants and price brackets. While there is some murmur among manufactures about how it could drive up production costs, the minister has been firm. “People sitting at the back have no airbags for them. An airbag costs ₹800, our effort is to ensure maximum safety," he had previously said. (Read full report here)
How dangerous are Indian roads?
Gadkari has time and again pointed to statistics which reveal that around five lakh road accidents are reported in India each year, killing around 1.5 lakh people and injuring three lakh. The minister had even highlighted this concern in the Lok Sabha in early parts of August, referring to data from World Road Statistics (WRS) 2018.
Issues such as better road infrastructure, widespread awareness levels about safety features and driving etiquettes, and better law enforcement are just some of the recommendations made by experts. Additionally, safer cars for customers in what is the world's fourth largest automotive market is gaining momentum.
As per data from National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB), around 1.55 lakh deaths occurred in road accidents in 2021. This translates to 426 deaths each day of the year, or 18 deaths every single hour. A significant 11 per cent of these deaths could have been prevented had the persons been wearing a seatbelt.
How do airbags and seatbelts protect passengers?
While there are numerous safety highlights in a modern car - from ABS, EBD, traction control, hill descent control and more, the most essential safety highlights to prevent serious body harm in case of an accident are seatbelts and airbags, and often in this exact order.
While airbags deploy instantly in case of a collision - frontal or side, and thereby preventing/cushioning the body from hitting hard sections of the vehicle, seatbelts keep the body from swaying or violently hitting against sections like the windshield or front seats, thereby mostly preventing trauma injuries.
(With inputs from PTI)