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‘Is vehicle safety only for the rich?’ the question from Gadkari that triggered revamp of norms | India News – Times of India

NEW DELHI: A question from Union road transport minister Nitin Gadkari to his officials, on whether those seeking to buy economic models of cars should be allowed to do so and if vehicle safety was meant only for the rich, triggered the process for the complete revamp of vehicle safety norms. What subsequently followed was the draft notification for minimum six airbags in all cars and the revival of safety ‘star’ ratings of cars, which was first mooted in 2014.
Sources said Gadkari had posed the question while chairing a review meeting with senior officials during which he directed them to start work on aligning vehicle safety norms with European standards. “All cars must have necessary safety features to protect the occupants and there can’t be any compromise even in the cheapest models,” he said.
Officials said the ministry started working to have an improved regime of ‘star’ ratings of cars than the current norms being followed in several developed countries under the new car assessment programme (NCAP). The government also plans to put the star ratings in public domain for wider availability of crash test results.
The Indian version of the rating is being developed to meet local conditions considering that unlike in developed countries, in India more people die in road crashes outside the cars — mostly pedestrians and motorcyclists. According to the National Crime Records Bureau, while 13% of car occupants died in road crashes in 2020, nearly 67% of those killed in road crashes were two-wheeler riders, cyclists, pedestrians and occupants of other non-motorised vehicles.
The new protocol will be ready in the next 4-5 months and the government targets to roll out the ‘star’ ratings in the next two years, sources said.
While the assessment regime will give adequate weightage to different aspects including the structure of the vehicles, safety of adult and child occupants, it will also assign scores for other active and passive safety features that make the car safer, not just for occupants but also other road users involved in crashes. These will include seat belt reminders, inbuilt electronic stability control, driver assistance system, hill assist technology.
Sources said though a decision is yet to be taken whether the ‘star’ ratings should be made mandatory as it’s being done for electronic appliances in India, there is a high possibility of making this voluntary considering the global trend. Since all cars in India need to pass a threshold crash test and the government will make the provision of six airbags and three-point seatbelts mandatory, all cars would qualify to get at least one star ranking, which is the lowest.

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