Car safety takes a back seat in India

Road safety is a concept that’s slowly branching out into the world at large, but in some places it’s being ignored by a lot of the car manufacturers, which makes it harder for the citizens to be safer themselves. In India for example, car makers are cutting corners in the name of sales and it’s leading to some worryingly dangerous situations.

Both Mahindra & Mahindra’s Quanto MPV and Renault’s Duster SUV have been called out as prime examples of safety lacking vehicles, since they each have mounted “jump seats” in the boot area. None of these added seats have seat belts. 

But they aren’t the only ones. As TimesOfIndia explains, almost every major car maker selling vehicles in the country has done away with vital safety features in order to cut costs; corner cutting that wouldn’t be allowed anywhere else in the world. Hyundai, Honda, Suzuki and many others all stand accused of removing features like ABS, or air bags from crucial parts of the vehicle.

With such large numbers of drivers in India, it’s a prime market for car makers, but due to the stiff competition in the region, it seems like manufacturers are looking to keep costs as low as possible in order to retain a profit margin. What’s surprising though, is that many of the companies competing in the region aren’t just Indian, but multi-national firms that have these safety features installed in their vehicles elsewhere in the world, but not in India.


One of the major reasons of problems with vehicles is what the car makers describe as “wire tampering,” which can result in short outs or potential electric shocks for those tinkering. However, those same car manufacturers sell vehicles without company-fitted stereos to cut back on costs and therefore fiddling with the wires is almost a certainty.

S P Singh, senior fellow and coordinator of Indian Foundation for Transport Research & Training said: “When [car manufacturers] market the vehicles, they project them as international models. But when they sell them in the market, the products here are very different from the ones they make for the European markets. This is a clear case of discrimination against Indian buyers and should not be allowed.”

The government is catching most of the flak for not making these sorts of safety features mandatory, but car manufacturers are also accused of lobbying against such legislation, since it would then require them to raise their prices to cover added costs of the safety features.

A recent incident that saw several businessmen die from carbon monoxide poisoning prompted many to look at the way such incidents are handled around the world. In Europe, Japan or the US, if a vehicle is thought to have a major fault, the manufacturer is forced to recall thousands of them in order to fix the fault. In India, it gets brushed under the mat and people are fed up.

To provide more evidence for any action taken, British car safety charity NCAP, recently put several of India’s most popular cars through regular safety testing and found many features missing and suggested that any crashes over low speeds could result in life threatening injuries.

Here’s hoping something is done soon, as with India’s growing driving population, deaths on the road are only likely to increase along with it.

Image source: Swifant, Kuruman

    Jon Martindale

    Jon Martindale is an English author and journalist, who's written for a number of high-profile technology news outlets, covering everything from the latest hardware and software releases, to hacking scandals and online activism.

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