In the last quarter of 2021, we heard rumors that the government had been researching the cost of fitting 6-Airbags in vehicles. Come 2022, Union Minister Nitin Gadkari has confirmed that it is only a matter of days before 6-Airbags become compulsory for vehicles carrying up to 8 passengers. This decision by the government is taken in light of the fact that road accidents are a major cause of death in our country. While some trends are indeed changing, even still a significant percentage of automobile buyers do not pay attention to safety ratings or wish to opt for lower prices than higher safety standards. This move by the government will surely increase the price of 4-wheelers but it will provide a higher level of protection and safety on the road.
Nitin Gadkari, Minister of Road Transport and Highways explained the plan of the government in three consecutive tweets, he said, “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. #RoadSafety #SadakSurakshaJeevanRaksha”.
In the next two tweets he mentioned the reason for this addition and the types of airbags that will be mandated, he said, “To minimize the impact of frontal and lateral collisions to 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. #RoadSafety #SadakSurakshaJeevanRaksha”, he added.
What Does This Mean?
MoRTH had already mandated the implementation of the fitment of the driver-side airbag with effect from the 1st of July 2019. Later on, a front co-passenger airbag was also mandated with effect from the 1st of January 2022. This decision to mandate four more airbags in the M1 vehicle category will ensure better protection to all passengers (front and rear) in case of a frontal, rear, or side impact. The M1 vehicle category by definition means any passenger car with a maximum of eight seats in addition to the driver’s seat.
It means, all the hatchbacks, sedans, SUVs, compact SUVs, and MPVs will now be equipped with 6-Airbags. The distribution of airbags will be; four for the front and side curtain airbags on each side. This new mandate is to be put to effect by the 1st of October, but this date could be extended on demand of the manufacturers. It could increase the already soaring cost of vehicles, but some of the brands are already offering 6-airbags as standard on their newer models. This will surely push the competition to offer the same.