Automobile safety standards have improved over the last couple of years in India, with the the government taking some good safety initiatives to make our roads safer. In July of 2019, the government mandated driver-side airbags along with a few other safety features across all four-wheelers retailed in the country. To take safety standards a step further, the government has now mandated passenger-side airbags to be standard fitment on all passenger vehicles sold in the country.
The Ministry of Road Transport and Highways (MoRTH) has announced in a gazette notification that the new rule that will require all new passenger vehicles to have dual front airbags as standard fitment from April 1, 2021. Meanwhile, existing vehicles will be required to be sold with dual airbags from August 31, 2021. The notification further said that the mandate was an important safety feature and is also based on the suggestions of the Supreme Court Committee on road safety.
MoRTH had previously issued a draft notification to the Automotive Industry Standard (AIS) to make necessary amendments concerned with safety features. Previously, the norms mandated a driver-side airbag to be standard fitment on all passenger vehicles, but a single-sided airbag leaves the co-passenger with inadequate safety. That usually leaves the co-passenger exposed to serious injury, or even death, in case of a serious mishap.
The need for dual front airbags has been long promoted by the advocates of road safety. It will particularly be extremely beneficial on entry-level cars where manufacturers often skip on basic safety features on the base trims to save costs. That said, prices for these variants are expected to see a marginal revision as a result.
The notification further said that the airbag will need to meet the AIS 145 standard under the Bureau of Indian Standards (BIS) specifications. A few low-cost inclusions such as speed alert, reverse parking sensors and seat-belt reminder already come as standard fitment in all cars. Dual-front airbags are a very crucial safety feature that had not been mandated on cars so far. This new mandate should go a long way in saving more lives on our roads.