Every crash is a notice that something is wrong with men, methods, or material – investigate – then act

This is a guest post by Shaan Mathew. You can connect with him at shaanmathew77@gmail.com

I’d like to start off by saying, anyone who could drive in India could probably drive in any other part of the world considering our congested, poor quality roads with a nice touch of potholes, then comes our heavy population and poor infrastructure that causes of lot of incidents between drivers and pedestrians and to top it all off one of the most sold vehicles among us have a zero star rating in safety. As a vehicle test driving enthusiast myself even when I take a sharp corner at moderate speeds (50-70 km/hr) I have a little fear within, whether the car will fail me. Which is the downright reason I wanted people to be more aware about safety issues in Indian vehicles and why we need to push our government and manufactures into understanding the importance of safety!

Now, let’s consider one of the most sold cars in India to let you know there are chances that you must have owned one of these vehicles during some period of time or even currently. As per the year 2016:

  1. Maruti Alto Series  – 18,868
  2. MarutiDZire – 15,894
  3. Maruti Swift – 15,513
  4. Hyundai Grand i10 – 12,545
  5. Hyundai Elite i20 – 12,394
  6. MarutiWagonR – 12,105
  7. Renault KWID – 10,296
  8. MarutiVitaraBrezza – 10,057
  9. Hyundai Creta – 10,001
  10. MarutiCelerio – 8823

While India did not have the occupant protection regulations earlier, the UK-based organisation (GNCAP) carried out a few rounds of car tests of made-in-India cars since January 2014. These tests were done on cars like Hyundai i10, the Tata Nano, Maruti Suzuki Alto 800, Volkswagen Polo, Ford Figo, Maruti Suzuki Swift and the Datsun Go. GNCAP’s test reports in November 2014 created tremendous stir and the carmakers came under fire for the low occupant safety level in the cars. As a car owner you might start to get anxious, but there’s good news. Through these years manufactures have understood the importance of safety and have shown the difference as we check 2017 NCAP test results for each of these cars you’ll know it isn’t yet up to the mark but growing into it.

Let us take the most sold car in India, Maruti Alto 800 is India’s highest selling car. No matter how bleak the situation in the industry, Maruti churns out an astonishing number of Alto’s month after month. There are lakhs of people who own one, but if you were to ask them if safety figured anywhere in their list of priorities when buying the car, the answer to that would probably be somewhere between “didn’t think about it” and “no”. It’s a relatively inexpensive car, and most of us have now accepted the fact that an affordable car cannot afford to be safe.

400 deaths a day in India due to road accidents

Which is why it comes as no surprise to us that the Alto 800, along with the Tata Nano, failed completely during the recent Global New Car Assessment Programme (NCAP) tests. All cars were a subject to a 40 per cent frontal collision that was offset towards the driver, at a speed of 64kph.

Even recently one of the most sold compact SUV in 2017, the Renault Duster has disheartened its customers in many ways. Renault Duster scores zero stars in Global NCAP crash test it does not even offer airbags as standard sold in India even though it is a premium compact SUV it scored poorly in adult occupant protection. The test results state that due to the lack of airbags, the driver injuries would have been unacceptably high, even as you browse through Renault’s main site they have confidently quoted “World-class safety and security features ensure you are in complete control even on unfavourable terrains. Dual front airbags are designed to absorb heavy impact. The impact sensing door unlock allows a quick exit from the car while the speed sensitive auto door lock intelligently locks the door”. I haven’t quite understood how they can just openly blind their customers with no reports, statistics or tests to support the words they’ve made to their own results.

Renault Kwid safety rating 0 Global NCAP crash test
Kwid’s first crash test.

Now, what we have to be more aware and informed about is The Bharat New Vehicle Safety Assessment Program (BNVSAP) is a proposed New Car Assessment Program for India. Cars sold in the country will be assigned by star ratings based on their safety performance. It is an initiative taken on by our government. It was expected to start by mid-2014, but postponed to start from 2017. (Because of delay in setting up labs and other facilities). As these many years have gone by it is still surprising that these norms haven’t come into place, this is also because as a customer we aren’t aware of what is sold to us and what is actually expected from them. As our awareness grows among small communities as such I believe in a short period we can enforce our government to take the right steps and move forward as every driver is at a constant risk.

New cars sold in India will need to comply with voluntary star ratings based on crash safety performance tests. Critical safety features such as airbagsABS, and seat belt reminders will become standard in cars sold in India resulting from rankings and mandatory crash testing. Offset front crashside, and rear impact tests will be required by 2017. Cars will gradually have to meet more stringent norms such as pedestrian protectionwhiplash injury and child restraint systems standards and requirements.India has the world’s sixth-largest car market, but is still the only country among the global top ten car markets without a testing program that measures the safety of vehicles. It is estimated that vehicles in India will cost 8–15% more resulting from compliance with these norms. However, harmonizing India’s vehicle safety standards with global standards is expected to help automakers export locally produced cars globally.

This seems pretty remarkable considering the proposals given in by BNVSAP – but will they promise what they have stated or is it just another hoax.