The Centre will make it mandatory for carmakers to provide a minimum of six airbags in motor vehicles that can carry up to 8 passengers for enhanced safety of occupants, Union Minister Nitin Gadkari said on Friday.
In a series of tweets, the Road Transport and Highways Minister said his ministry had already mandated the implementation of the fitment of the driver airbag with effect from July 1, 2019 and front co-passenger airbag with effect from January 1, 2022.
"In order to enhance the safety of the occupants in motor vehicles carrying up to 8 passengers, I have now approved a Draft GSR Notification to make a minimum of 6 Airbags compulsory," Gadkari said. GSR here stands for General Statutory Rules.
He further said that to minimise the impact of frontal and lateral collisions on the occupants seated in both front and rear compartments, it has been decided that 4 additional airbags be mandated in the M1 vehicle category.
" ...i.e two side/side torso airbags and two side curtain/tube airbags covering all outboard passengers. This is a crucial step to make motor vehicles in India safer than ever," he said.
According to Gadkari, this will ultimately ensure the safety of passengers across all segments, irrespective of the cost/variant of the vehicle
According to the latest government data, a total of 1,16,496 road accidents occurred on national highways (NHs), including expressways, in 2020, causing 47,984 deaths.
Last year, Gadkari in an interview to PTI 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. So, I appeal to all car manufacturers to provide a minimum of six airbags across all variants and segments of the vehicle," he had said.
The minister had acknowledged that additional airbags in small cars will increase their cost by at least Rs 3,000-4,000.