New Delhi: The Union ministry of road transport and highways (MoRTH) has decided to put off the decision to make six airbags mandatory in passenger cars for a year. Officials said that the government has decided not to stick to the deadline for implementing the six airbags norms with effect from October 1, this year, owing rise in manufacturing cost of the vehicles.
“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. October 1, 2023,” Gadkari said in a tweet.
The minister further asserted that the safety of all passengers travelling in motor vehicles irrespective of their cost and variants is the foremost priority. An airbag interferes between the driver and the vehicle’s dashboard during a collision, thereby preventing serious injuries.
Earlier this year, MoRTH, in a statement, said in order to enhance the safety of occupants of the motor vehicle against lateral impact, it has been decided to enhance safety features by amending the Central Motor Vehicles Rules (CMVR), 1989.
“A draft notification has been issued on January 14, 2022, which mandates that vehicles of category M1, manufactured after October 1, 2022, shall be fitted with two side/side torso airbags, one each for the persons occupying front row outboard seating positions, and two side curtain/tube air bags, one each for the persons occupying outboard seating positions,” it had said.
Talking to a news agency last year, Gadkari had said that 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.
The minister’s remarks did not go down well with the automobile industry sector, which is already grappling with high taxation and stricter safety and emission norms. Impositions of fresh and stricter provisions have led to rise in cost of the vehicles.
Officials of the MoRTH, however, cited the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) data to justify the minister’s stand, saying that over 1.55 lakh lives were lost in road crashes across India in 2021, which amount to an average of 426 daily or 18 every single hour. This is the highest death figures recorded in any calendar year so far.