The accident troubles car owner Anil Nair far lesser than the fact that when he informed his Toyota dealer that his Etios airbags did not deploy, they said, “It’s because you did not collide properly”. A frustrated Mr Nair now asks Toyota India, “Then how must I collide for the airbags to function properly?”
And of course he raises the question, “How can I trust this vehicle again?” Of course hopelessness from the response makes him question whether Toyota will offer training to bang cars in the right manner so airbags are deployed.
Non-deployment of airbags in this instance throws light on the fact that if collision isn’t direct, sensors won’t function. They would however deploy in case of frontal collision above a certain speed, whether or not brakes were applied. The other deterrent is not wearing a seatbelt at which the the sensor responsible for airbag deployment may not work as there’s not much sense if the seat is unoccupied. Of course, such an issue doesn’t really arise in case of most cars as the seat belt beep won’t turn off unless you wear it.
In this instance of course both passengers did wear their seatbelt as they were driving on a highway. Furthermore, Kochi police is strict about car occupants wearing a seatbelt. Photographic evidence clearly points to a frontal crash with the bonnet having endured extensive damage. The passenger side window reveals a crack through it and could point to the fact that the co-passenger did bang into the door sideways upon impact. Earlier this month, the court directed Toyota Motors to pay Rs 25 lakh as compensation for a case from November 2012.
India and airbags aren’t synonymous, and rather than a much needed safety feature, it’s treated as an optional add-on in many cars. While Nair’s car did have airbags, failure to deploy does open up a new debate, and what does a consumer do. While the Indian law system is regarded as slow, social media certainly can help get a quicker response, and that’s the what the aggrieved as chosen to go. Of about 5 lakh reported road accidents in 2013, upward of 1 lakh people succumbed to injuries. India reports highest number of road fatalities. Earlier this month, India made Maruti Swift and Datsun Go failed global NCAP safety crash tests. In the beginning of 2014, Suzuki Maruti Alto 800, Hyundai i10, and Ford Figo too were awarded zero-star adult protection rating.
UPDATE: A Toyota India spokesperson has responded to this individual incident, and explained in detail prerequisites for airbag deployment and how sensors work. It should be noted, airbags in Toyota cars meet industry safety standards, and conform to all regulations.