The Ministry of Road Transport and Highways or MoRTH has just released a notification regarding dual airbags, which will now be mandated on passenger vehicles from April 1. This has been done keeping in mind the safety of the occupants. While the date for new vehicles has been set to April 1, the existing vehicles would have to comply with it with August 31.
The rule said that “Vehicles manufactured on and after the April 1, 2021, in the case of new models, and August 31, 2021, in the case of existing models, shall be fitted with airbags for the person occupying the front seat, other than the driver.”
Due to this the prices of the vehicles are expected to increase by Rs. 5,000 to Rs. 7,000. This has been done to increase the safety of the front passenger occupant. The new mandate applies to all the vehicles that fall under M1 categories. The first notification was drafted regarding the front dual airbags on December 28, 2020. The Central Motor Vehicle Rules, 1989 which has now been amended says “Vehicles manufactured on and after the 1st day of April, 2021, in the case of new models, and 31st day of August, 2021, in the case of existing models, shall be fitted with airbag for the person occupying the front seat, other than the driver.” The airbags also would have to comply with the AIS 145 (Automotive Industry Standards) safety norms till the Bureau of Indian Standards (BIS) specifications are notified.
“The Ministry has issued a Gazette notification regarding mandatory provision of an airbag for passengers seated on the front seat of a vehicle, next to the driver. This has been mandated as an important safety feature and is also based on suggestions of the Supreme Court Committee on Road Safety.” said the Union Ministry of Road Transport and Highways on 5th March while issuing the order.
Entry-level vehicles like Maruti Suzuki WagonR, Eeco, S-Presso, Datsun RediGo, Hyundai Santro, Mahindra Bolero and the Renault Kwid will be affected. These vehicles are still sold with only a driver airbag as standard. Yes, the prices of some of the vehicles will increase but so will be the safety. Now, there will be a dedicated airbag to save the life of the front passenger. The front airbags are known to decrease the driver fatalities by 29 percent and front-seat occupant fatalities by 32 percent. NHTSA or National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has estimated that a combination of seat belts and airbags can reduce the fatalities by 61 percent where the airbags alone can reduce the chances by 34 percent. Government has already mandated rear parking sensors, speed alert system, Anti-lock Braking System and seatbelt reminders for the front occupants.
Moreover, the government is also now looking to introduce Autonomous Emergency Braking and Electronic Stability Control to all the vehicles from 2022-2023. This should ramp up the safety quotient of the Indian vehicles by a significant margin. Currently, only the Tata Motors offers dual airbags as standard across all their vehicles and they are the ones to offer Electronic Stability Program as standard on the Nexon compact-SUV. The Autonomous Emergency Braking is currently only offered on the MG Gloster which is a full-size SUV.