According to a survey carried by global research firm JD Power Asia Pacific, more than 90% of the Indian small car buyers demanded enhanced safety features in their cars whereas in reality only about 34% of such owners have these features in their cars. Whereas the basic safety features in passenger cars, such as ABS, Airbags and parking sensors are mandatory in most vehicles sold in the developed countries, in India, these are still considered to be discretionary features available only in the high-end models of passenger cars.
Taking cognizance of the fact and responding to the global trend of making road travel safer and to curb the rising incidences of road accidents and fatalities, the Government of India through it’s ministry of Road Transport and Highways has made it mandatory that all vehicles sold after October 2017 will have the Air Bags pre installed in addition to various other security features such as speed warning systems and rear parking sensors.
The installation of Airbags in the vehicles will go a long way in reducing the fatalities in car accidents in India, which currently has the dubious distinction of having the highest number of road fatalities in the world with over 140,000 people dying every year. Another matter of consideration is that the average vehicle speed on highways and expressways are increasing with more and more expressways and highways of global standards being built in the country. To ply on these roads of global standards, the vehicles plying on those must also be of global standards, including the safety features installed in those.
In global tests, it has been found that Airbags are one of the most effective ways to minimize the impact to the vehicle driver or passengers in the event of a collision, which is one of the most common road accidents on Indian roads, since there is a large percentage of roads, even highways that do not have dividers on them.
Having said this, there certainly are some limitations as well as concerns that have been put forward by the industry as well as experts on the installation of Air Bags in each and every car. First, to incorporate Air Bags in the new cars will not be such a big problem but engineering airbags in the current budget cars will not be feasible because of the weak body shells and having Air Bags in them will actually be of no use in the event of a high speed collision. Further, it has been observed that in some vehicles, the Air Bags tend to inflate on any sharp jerk. With the Indian road conditions, these can be quite common since obviously many Indian roads are not maintained in a good condition, specially in the villages and small towns and the Air Bags can become more of a liability than a solution since the inflation of the air bag will need the vehicle to be brought to the servicing station and have those reinstalled which is an expensive process.
Even so, there is no taking away from the fact that to compete globally and to have the same safety standards in our cars as are globally accepted, we must equip our cars, even the base models with the basic safety features, Airbags being one of them.
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