Car safety has been a big focus in the news for the past few months, whether it’s discussing automated safety features, driverless cars, the recent Takata airbag failings in the US, or indeed the push for better car safety in India. With the world’s second worst safety record, leading to some quarter million people dying on the roads every year, the government there wants to make cars much safer, so it’s mandated that airbags and anti-lock brakes be added to all vehicles in the near future. While initially scheduled to come into place in October 2019, that date has now been pushed forward to 2017.
The reason for the big delay, even this hurried along one, is because all of the country’s car makers have been crying foul since the initial announcement of the plan. There claim has been that forcing extra safety features into Indian vehicles, will lead to a prise rise of around £100 per vehicle. This cost, they said, will be pushed onto the consumer (though no one is forcing them to do that) and in turn, that will lead to less people buying cars, because a large number can’t afford them anyway.
This will lead them – so say the car makers – to buy cheaper and more dangerous motorbikes or bicycles instead. They may have a point in some senses, as while India has the world’s highest numbers of road deaths, its roadways are far less dangerous when you look at the number of miles driven; at least compared to other countries.
It could also be argued that while anti-lock brakes are a much needed addition to Indian cars, air-bags are only as good as the structure of the car. If the vehicle itself folds up under impact, airbags won’t help much.
The big change however, will be if the government introduces mandatory crash testing, which while not guaranteed could lead to a lot of Indian car makers needing to take safety far more seriously. The Datsun Go was banned from sale in India this year, after being found by an independent body to be useless in head-on collisions, likely to kill all passengers at even low speeds.
If implemented, tests will need to be performed at 56 kilometres per hour from the front and 50 kilometres per hour from the side, with basic constraints put on how protective the vehicle needs to be in order to go on sale.
In another move, Just-Auto reports that the government may be considering banning the use of all cars over 15 years of age, as while modern cars in the country are far from safe, older ones are even worse in many respects. On top of that, their fuel efficiency and carbon ratings are terrible, belching out carbon dioxide and other gasses in horrific amounts. By cutting back on older vehicles, pollution could be reduced and air quality improved in the nation’s capital, New Delhi, which suffers tremendously from smog and other side effects of auto-exhaust fumes.