Following a debate about the need for more airbags to protect people during road mishaps triggered by industrialist Cyrus Mistry’s death, the Indian government has made six airbags in passenger cars mandatory. So far only high-end cars come with six airbags, while 90 per cent of vehicles on Indian roads do not have that feature, leaving a large number of people vulnerable.
India’s Minister for Road Transport and Highways Nitin Gadkari took to Twitter to announce the policy which will come into effect from October 1, 2023. The death of Cyrus Mistry on the Mumbai-Ahmedabad highway, started a nationwide conversation about road security measures such as seatbelts for people in the passenger seat. The Maharashtra Police has already fined 200 drivers, as people weren’t wearing seat belts on the back seat.
Although six airbags were supposed to be compulsory from October this year, the decision was deferred by 18 months, since India lacks the manufacturing capacity to integrate 18 million airbags in cars. Two airbags are already mandatory, and adding four more will cost another 6000 per vehicle. But it can prevent a third of deaths in side or head-on collisions, that claimed 39,000 lives in 2020 alone.
Although the announcement about making six airbags compulsory in India was made in January this year, a sense of urgency kicked in after former Tata Group chairman Mistry died in a car crash, while he was in the passenger seat.
After this, the Indian government has also issued draft rules, that require carmakers to install alarm systems that alert drivers in case people on front or rear seats aren't wearing seatbelts.