Understanding the additional airbags mandate for vehicles

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Understanding the additional airbags mandate for vehicles

The government has proposed the installation of six airbags in all passenger vehicles (M1 category) to enhance safety for vehicle occupants.

What does the proposal say?

  • The general statutory rules (GSR) notification states that all vehicles in the M1 category manufactured after October 1 this year must come fitted with two side torso air bags in the front row at the outboard seating positions.
  • it would be deployed to the seats or on the sides at the stipulated position inside the vehicle. It added that the deployment of the inflatable airbag in the mentioned position would help mitigate injuries in the torso region or ejection of the occupant from the vehicle. Further, the notification asks for deploying curtain or tube air bags to cushion the entire outboard sides of the vehicle
  • Union Minister for Road Trasport and Highways said, “This has been notified to enhance safety for the vehicle occupants. In the event of lateral collision, the side/torso airbags act as a cushion between the vehicle body and occupants and absorbs energy of impact.” He added the move would ultimately ensure the safety of passengers across all segments, irrespective of cost/variant of the vehicle.

What are the previous legislation on air bags?

  • This has been mandated as an important safety feature, and is also based on suggestions of the Supreme Court Committee on Road Safety.

How will the prices of vehicles be affected?

  • Automobile market analyst JATO Dynamics told Reuters that installing four additional airbags in vehicles would increase its cost by ₹17,600.
  • In some cases, the cost could be higher as companies will need to make engineering changes to the car’s structure to accommodate the additional airbags.
  • Further, the news agency reported that the Society of Indian Automobile Manufacturers (SIAM) has asked the ministry to “review and reconsider” the rules considering “side and curtain bags are not mandated anywhere else in the world”.
  • The Mister had said in the recently-concluded budget session of the Lok Sabha that the automobile industry was upset with the announcement citing increase in the price of vehicles.
  • He stated that the fixed cost of an air bag would be determined by market forces and volume of production. * The Union Minister said the approximate variable cost of four airbags (two side air bags and two curtain air bags) may vary between ₹5,600 and ₹7,000.

Will the move ensure safety in case of a collision?

  • According to the U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), frontal air bags saved 50,457 lives between 1987 and 2017 — enough to fill a major league baseball stadium.
  • It added airbags to prevent the passenger’s upper body or head from hitting the vehicle’s interior during a crash. The transport regulatory body says passengers must also ensure fastening their seat belts on roads.
  • The Minister stated in the recently-concluded parliamentary session that 8,598 lives in 2020 could have been saved in head-on collision with the use of airbags.
  • “Similarly, side collisions cost 14,271 lives and 31% of those or 4,424 lives could have been saved with the use of side airbags”, he said
  • The Minister had apprised the Lower House in March about the government adopting a multi-pronged strategy to address issues pertaining to road safety based on education, engineering (both roads and vehicles), enforcement and emergency care.
  • With respect to vehicular engineering, He informed the house that with respect to airbags, anti-braking systems (ABS), tyres, crash tests, speed limiting devices and compliance with fire alarms and protection systems, safety standards for automobiles have been improved.

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