While in earlier 2019, we have had this safety rule come in wherein airbag as well as ABS was mandatory for all passenger car, the rule (as usual) was misconstrued and manufacturers found a way out. Only the driver-side airbag was provided in most of the mass-market cars whereas the slightly higher models got the front passenger covered as well. However, a new directive by the Government of India suggests that the passenger side airbag too is mandatory for all new cars that will be manufactured from April 1, 2021. As for existing cars, like for example the Maruti Suzuki S-Presso STD or even the Renault Kwid, the companies can start adding the passenger-side airbag from August 31, 2021. The government had got the recommendation from the Supreme Court to add this as part of the road safety initiative. This passenger airbag has to meet the AIS 145 standard.
When the aforementioned rule came out in 2019, we had lauded it. However, the fact that dual airbags weren’t standard was something that didn’t go down well with many. In the unfortunate event of a frontal crash, the passenger, as well as the driver, bears the brunt of the shunt. Hence airbags for both should have been mandatory from day one. It is likely that side airbags (expensive than front ones) will be a regulation in the coming years. As it is, many manufacturers right now offer a passenger airbag as an option for as little as Rs 5,000 extra.
Express Drives will also like carmakers to provide stronger body structures. The reason many of the India-made cars do dismally at crash safety tests is because of their weak body construction. In other news, manufacturers recently met Nitin Gadkari, the minister for road transport and highways, and suggested he move the BS6 Phase II CAFE norms implementation to 2024 instead of next year. Gadkari is said to have assured them that the government will definitely look into this proposal.
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