India has one of the highest incidences of accident-related deaths in the world; in fact, a report released by the ministry of transport highlights that more than 140,000 people were killed in car crashes in 2015, an increase of 4.6% over the previous year. While new technology has allowed companies to incorporate safety features to avoid such mishaps, there are still quite a few entry-level vehicles which lack basic safety levels that cars enjoy in the developed countries. But the government seems intent to change all that in the coming years. Although the auto sector was long contemplating a change in the standard set of safety norms, the government on Monday notified that carmakers will have to provide airbags, reverse-gear sensors, speed-warning systems and seatbelt reminders as standard equipment in all the vehicles starting October 2017.
Though the new systems would add to the safety of Indian cars, they would also add around 10-12% to their cost. The move becomes more important in the light of recent crash-tests where most of the entry level cars in India failed the GNCAP crash test norms. But more important would be to make it mandatory for cars to pass minimum frontal and side crash-tests which will be implemented from October next year. However, with most people tampering with their cars to augment speed and safety-belt alarms, none of these steps would work until the government ensures traffic rules are obeyed in the country.