Safety standards on Indian vehicles have come a long way over the last few years but we are still behind when compared to global safety standards. The Indian government has now expressed concerns over existing practices of automakers for downgrading safety standards to achieve competitive pricing. This response comes in the wake of Global NCAP reports which highlight the difference between safety standards in vehicles sold here in India and the ones that are exported to developed markets abroad.
A case in point here is the Kia Seltos. The India-spec Kia Seltos received a 3-star safety rating from Global NCAP while the model used in the tests conducted by Australasian New Car Assessment Program bagged a full 5-star safety rating. Concerns over the requirement of improved safety standards were raised by Giridhar Aramane, Secretary of Ministry of Road Transport and Highways (MoRTH). He expressed his views while speaking at a seminar organized by the Society of Indian Automobile Manufacturers (SIAM).
Citing certain statistics, Aramane pointed out that in 2018, the US recorded a total of about 45 lakh road accidents, which resulted in 36,560 deaths. Meanwhile, in India, there were about 4.5 lakh road accidents in 2018, with about 1.5 lakh deaths. Such high fatality rate in India can certainly be attributed to lower vehicle safety standards. Mr Aramane called out the practices of purposefully downgrading safety standards as an 'unpardonable' practice and urged carmakers to put an end to it.
Mr Aramane has even requested carmakers in the country to share any safety-related patents that they may have. He cited the example of Volvo inventing the three-point seating belt and sharing the patent with other automakers. This feature was soon adopted by carmakers all over the world and we all know how effective seatbelts have been in saving lives over all these years.
The government has been actively updating safety norms in India over the last few years. Features such as dual airbags, ABS, seatbelt pre-tensioners and rear parking sensors have been made mandatory for all cars sold in the country. Mr Armane pointed out that such features need to be incorporated in all vehicles plying on our roads and not just new or high-end vehicles. To further improve road safety, the government plans to introduce emergency care and cashless treatment for road accident victims. There are also plans for a vehicle location tracking system being implemented in cars, something that can prove to play a key role in this context.