Union Road Transport and Highways Minister Nitin Gadkari said on Wednesday that the government won’t make the six-airbag safety rule mandatory for passenger cars in India since new crash test rules were introduced earlier this year.
An airbag interferes between the driver and the vehicle’s dashboard during a collision, thereby preventing serious injuries.
“We have introduced the BNCAP (Bharat New Car Assessment Programme) regime, which demands six airbags for achieving a 5-star safety rating in cars. It will automatically push companies to offer 6 airbags as standard without the need for making them mandatory,” said Gadkari while speaking at the Automotive Component Manufacturers Association of India.
“The most important aspect to reduce road accidents is the shift in human behaviour. Low usage of helmets, zebra crossing, and indulgence in drunken driving must stop,” said Gadkari at the event.
Nitin Gadkari said last year he would make it mandatory for all passenger cars to have a minimum of six airbags from October 1, 2023, a year later than originally planned because of opposition from some carmakers. However, the proposal was not finalised and the minister now sees no need to make it mandatory.
“Now people are cautious. Whatever models have six airbags, people may prefer to take that car. It’s up to the manufacturers and people to decide,” he said at the automotive conference in New Delhi.
“Automated driver license systems are going to be big enablers for road safety. Automakers must start scrappage centres, fitness and driving training and license centres,” the minister said on Wednesday.
Last year, Gadkari had said small cars, mostly purchased by lower middle-class people, should also have an adequate number of airbags and had wondered why automakers are providing eight airbags only in big cars bought by rich people.
His remarks had come against the backdrop of the automobile industry raising concerns that high taxation and stricter safety and emission norms for vehicles have made their products expensive.
Mostly, lower-middle-class people buy small economy cars and “if their car won’t have airbags and when accidents happen, then it may result in deaths”, said Gadkari.
“India has recently moved from BS4 to BS6 norms, and we must strive to achieve world-class standards. We will make the next switch (to BS7) in emission norms in consultation with the industry,” said Gadkari on Wednesday.