This year brings major changes in the Indian automotive industry. New safety norms are coming into force. It is mandatory for all cars to have airbags and speed limit reminders from July 1. The audio alerts are triggered when the speed crosses 80 kmph. The alert gets sharper at 100 kmph, and becomes non-stop at 120 kmph.
Alarms also go off if the driver and passenger in the front seat are not wearing seatbelts. Rear parking sensors are also mandatory. Vehicles must also have a manual override switch for central locking systems. Most manufacturers already offer these features, but as they were not mandatory, fitted only the higher variants with them. Drivers in Bengaluru see the measures in a positive light.
Seatbelts are the best bet
“I feel it is a wonderful move to promote the use of seatbelts. I get a lot of accident videos on WhatsApp. Even if the car is going at 60 kmph, certain angles and roads can make the person sitting in front fall out of the window in case of an accident. It is only the seatbelt that can come to the rescue. I would say 50 per cent of the security is taken care of if you are wearing a seatbelt,” says Ravi Kumar RB, system admin at Trivium India Software Pvt Ltd.
Airbags should be used with seatbelts and not in isolation. He personally knows how a driver, not wearing the seatbelt, was pushed towards the roof by the airbags during an accident. :He suffered a skull injury,” says Ravi. Angan Sen, application architect with an MNC, was told by an experienced salesman that airbags are not so useful as they are only triggered at 80 kmph. “This is the attitude they have,” he says.
Prices are likely to go up by 8-10 percent, an incremental cost of Rs 40,000-60,000 per car. “Compared to life, a 10 percent increase is nothing,” says Ravi. “For people, buying a car is a symbol of social status. They will buy, irrespective of a small hike in price.”
Imagine going to the hospital as an accident victim—you get a minimum bill of Rs 1-1.5 lakh. Then there are the trauma and post-treatment ailments, he warns. Braking system. “The ABS (Anti-Lock Braking System) and EBD (Electronic Brake-force Distribution System) reduce a lot of panic braking-induced accidents. ABS and the two front airbags are now being introduced even in base variants now.”
“Sometimes people think that they can fit in the ABS later. I have tried to do this myself. The problem is that the vehicle dynamics can’t be tampered with later. It is a very precise scientific measurement that the manufacturer does. That can’t be tuned outside. So it is an important decision to offer it at the base variant,” says Sen.
He recalls how he was driving a car at 80 kmph and the brakes didn’t respond. Even the steering wheel got locked. “I applied the brakes three times and they worked only on the fourth try, by which time I was off the road. After that I decided to instal ABS myself. I did a lot of reading and the opinion was the same—it is not perfect. It is expensive too,” he says. After-market ABS fitment for a sedan costs Rs 80,000-90,000. And after-car modifications are not done properly in India either, he says.
The measures are as part of the Bharat New Vehicle Safety Assessment Programme, launched in 2017. It is an Indian version of the European Global New Car Assessment Programme, under which cars are awarded star ratings based on their safety performance.
Must from July