India to enact new car safety ratings cards

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India has recently made a big push for improving its car safety, following on from tests of some of its more popular cars that revealed them to be woefully unsafe and in some cases – like the Datsun Go – likely to do little to protect the driver in a head on collision, potentially leading to a fatality. The government is now pushing for mandatory inclusion of things like airbags and anti lock brakes, which have been shown in tests to make quite a drastic difference to a car’s safety rating – though some improved strengthening of the bodywork wouldn’t go amiss too – but some consumers may be confused about which cars come with what safety features, so there is now a push to try and build in a new safety carding system, making it obvious when buying a new vehicle which ones are the safest.

This is just at the proposal stage right now, with officials in the government discussing details of it with the insurance industry, as potentially running a safer car could lead to reductions in insurance premiums, perhaps offsetting the added cost of paying for safer vehicles. Details of h0w the scheme will operate are likely to be finalised in the summer this year, potentially leading to it being implemented towards the end of 2015, at the latest, early 2016.

Some features that the government is keen to drive people towards include things like anti-lock brakes and electronic brake distribution, which can help prevent skids and rolls during heavy braking. Seatbelt reminders will also be given a big thumbs up by the industry as well as airbags, though the latter feature is perhaps the lead important with India’s traditionally small and not-the-most-sturdy cars.

datsungo

The Datsun Go’s poor crash results led to the government’s drive to improve car safety

However, whether it’s cheap or expensive cars, the Indian government wants improved safety across the board, to try and cut back on its nearly quarter million road related deaths each year.

Transport Minister Nitin Gadkari told the Deccan Herald that “the government will not compromise on safety issues, whether it is low-end cars or high-end ones.”

Of course there has been a big push back from the motor-industry over this recent safety drive. Heads of the various local auto-makers have all protested, suggesting that the added costs of the safety features being mandatory will need to be passed on to consumers and that that in-turn will lead to more people opting out of buying a car and instead see them purchasing motorbikes or bicycles which have even worse road safety ratings and understandably, lack a lot of safety features that even the basic Indian cars possess.

This hasn’t perturbed safety advocates or the government however and it has not only pushed for these mandatory safety improvements, but has also demanded that certain car makers, including Nissan, remove certain unsafe vehicles, like the Datsun go, from sale.

 

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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.