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Six airbags will be made mandatory for all new passenger cars sold in India. This is news that has been doing the rounds across various media channels and sites for a while now. However, it is now official as the Minister for Road Transport and Highways Nitin Gadkari has announced the same. From 01 October 2023, all passenger cars sold in India will need to have six airbags.
In September 2019, the Indian government brought about a few safety norms that changed the way budget cars were manufactured. The new rules made the driver and front passenger airbag, along with ABS, seatbelt warning, and overspeeding warning mandatory for all new cars sold in India.
As a result, manufacturers discontinued a few non-compatible cars and motoring became much safer. However, as it turns out, it still wasn't safe enough. Since then there were talks and proposals were put forward to make six airbags mandatory. However, nothing came to fruition until now.
The accident which claimed the lives of Cyrus Mistry and his companion who were traveling in the back seat, placed further emphasis on the importance of having airbags for those seated in the rear of a car. Earlier this month, the government started planning to ban the sale and manufacture of seat belt clips and alarm stoppers, and the debate for six airbags intensified.
Now, Nitin Gadkari has announced that the news is official and the union minister has even placed a deadline for all manufacturers to comply. All cars sold in India starting from 01 October 2023 will be required to have six airbags. Cars that are not compatible with six airbags will simply have to be discontinued and this is something that a few manufacturers are not very thrilled about.
A few manufacturers had earlier placed emphasis on the fact that adding more airbags to cars will simply increase the cost of production. While the airbags themselves aren't too expensive, the process of redesigning a car's chassis to sense the impact on all sides and deploy the respective airbag is a tedious and expensive process.
Entry-level cars like the Maruti Suzuki Alto 800, Hyundai Santro, Tata Tiago, Datsun Redi-Go, etc, might have to undergo quite a few changes to accommodate six airbags. A few manufacturers might even have to discontinue a particular non-compatible model. Vehicles like the Maruti Suzuki Eeco, Datsun Go+, etc, might just face the axe.
Nitin Gadkari tweeted, "Considering the global supply chain constraints being faced by the auto industry and its impact on the macroeconomic scenario, it has been decided to implement the proposal mandating a minimum of 6 Airbags in Passenger Cars (M-1 Category) w.e.f 01st October 2023."
Many lauded the decision and appreciated the mandate. However, there is one section of the motoring world that feels a greater number of airbags alone won't help. Bad roads and poorly-engineered sections of Indian highways will still kill people despite having a larger number of airbags.
While that thought process too, is true and can't be ignored, nothing changes the fact that safer cars are coming to the Indian market in the near future.
Thoughts On Six Airbags Being Made Compulsory For All New Cars From October 2023
A larger number of airbags don't always mean there is increased safety. Increased road safety comes from having more awareness and driving safely. Increasing awareness about wearing seatbelts all the time while behind the wheel, for occupants at the front and at the rear is of paramount importance. Once people start wearing seatbelts more religiously, six airbags make a lot more sense.
A rule to implement technology that immobilises cars when its occupants aren't wearing seatbelts makes absolute sense for a country like India.