Earlier government made it mandatory for all passenger vehicles to have dual airbags. The deadline for the automobile manufacturers was set to April 1. However, because of the pandemic, the manufacturers had to make some changes to their production line. So, the Ministry of Road Transport and Highways has extended the deadline for installing dual airbags on current models to 31 Dec 2021. MoRTH has extended the timeline by four months.
Dual airbags were mandated for all the vehicles from 1st April 2021. This was done after taking suggestions from Supreme Court Committee on road safety. The date was extended when the Society of Indian Automobile Manufacturers (SIAM) has asked for more time for implementation of the rule on existing models.
The driver-side airbag was mandated in all cars from July 1, 2019. Features like rear parking sensors, an Anti-lock braking system with Electronic Brake Distribution, speed alert system and seat belt reminders were also made mandatory. The airbags are required to meet at least the AIS 145 standard under the Bureau of Indian Standards (BIS) specifications.
Prices will increase
Because of the new rule, the prices of the entry-level variants are expected to increase by Rs. 5,000 to Rs. 7,000. The biggest effect will be on the entry-level variants of the vehicles. There are still some vehicles like Maruti Suzuki WagonR, Eeco, S-Presso, Datsun RediGo, Hyundai Santro, Mahindra Bolero and the Renault Kwid that do not offer a passenger-side airbag in their base variant. Yes, the entry-level prices will increase but so will be the safety of these vehicles. Until now, the only safety equipment that the front occupant had was a seatbelt. Having a dedicated airbag should increase the safety rating exponentially.
Adding front airbags can decrease driver fatalities by 29 percent and front-seat occupant fatalities by 32 percent. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has earlier estimated that offering a combination of airbags and seatbelts can reduce fatalities by 61 percent where the airbags alone can reduce the chances by 34 percent.
More safety technology to come soon
The government is also working on making the Electronic Stability Program and Autonomous Emergency Braking mandatory on the new vehicles that are being sold in India. The new rule is expected to be implemented in 2022-2023. However, because of the pandemic and slow sales, there are chances that the date for this is also postponed so that the manufacturers have enough time to implement the new technology in their vehicles.
Well, known equipment developed Bosch has said that making Autonomous Emergency Braking standard in India have its own challenges. AEB requires radar sensors that are usually mounted behind the front grille. They continuously the speed, obstacles and acceleration. If the system detects a possibility of an accident, the system gives a warning to the driver or even brake autonomously.
Currently, there is only one vehicle in India that comes with Autonomous features. It is the MG Gloster which is a full-size SUV. It costs Rs. 29.98 lakhs ex-showroom. It comes with Adaptive Cruise Control, Lane Keep Assist and Autonomous Emergency Braking, Blind Spot Detection, Forward Collision Warning and Lane Departure Warning.