While 6-airbags can enhance safety, it may be difficult to accommodate in price-sensitive entry level car segment
While government’s efforts to improve car safety with 6-airbags is commendable, there appears to be resistance from both manufacturers and consumers. For example, Maruti had earlier asked the government to reconsider its move to make 6-airbags compulsory for all passenger cars.
The primary reason for opposition is that 6-airbags will push up prices of entry-level small cars. It will make these cars inaccessible to a significant number of two-wheeler users who are looking to upgrade to a four wheeler.
New TVC promoting 6-airbags
Folks with limited budget are also opposing the move, as there’s the general perception that 6-airbags will make the cars costly. Ministry of Road Transport and Highways of India (MORTH) is probably attempting to drum up support, ahead of making 6-airbags mandatory for all passenger cars.
To deal with such opposition in a positive way, Union Minister Nitin Gadkari has shared a TVC featuring Akshay Kumar, that highlights the usefulness of 6 airbags. The video below shows how the just married couple change their car once they are made to realize the importance of 6 airbags. Though the video does not reveal the car name of car brand, the car the couple shifts into looks like a Kia Seltos, which now has 6 airbags as standard in India.
6 ?????? ???? ????? ?? ??? ?? ?????? ?? ???????? ??????#?????????_????_???????_2022#National_Road_Safety_2022 @akshaykumar pic.twitter.com/5DAuahVIxE
— Nitin Gadkari (@nitin_gadkari) September 9, 2022
Draft notification for making 6-airbags mandatory for passenger cars was issued earlier this year in January. According to the draft, all M1 category vehicles manufactured after October 1, 2022 will be required to provide 6-airbags as standard across all variants. However, due to opposition from various quarters, it remains to be seen if the draft notification will be implemented in its original format.
Responding to questions on making 6-airbags mandatory, Nitin Gadkari had said that they are trying to make it work. In Lok Sabha, Gadkari said that cost of a single airbag is Rs 800 and government is thinking about making 6-airbags mandatory. However, he did not provide an exact timeline by when the draft notification will be implemented. Due to opposition, it is possible that 6-airbags rule could be deferred or it could be changed to exclude certain types of cars such as entry-level hatchbacks.
Seatbelt alarm for rear seats
In wake of the tragic incident involving Cyrus Mistry, government will be making wearing seat belts mandatory for all passengers. Investigation revealed that Mistry, who was sitting in rear seat, was not wearing a seat belt. Medical report revealed multiple injuries and blunt thorax trauma. Earlier, only front passengers were required to wear seat belts. With the new rule, rear passengers not wearing seat belts will be fined in the same way, as currently applicable for front passengers.
Government is also mulling on the idea to make seat belt alarm mandatory for rear passengers. As of now, seat belt alarm is compulsory only for front passengers. Rear seat belt alarm, along with imposing fine for not wearing seat belts, can help reduce injuries and fatalities. As per 2020 data, around 15k deaths and 39k injuries were linked to people not wearing seat belt. It remains to be seen when these new safety rules are implemented.