In a move to enhance safety features in vehicles, the government of India has mandated the use of passenger side airbag in the front seat. The Ministry of Road Transport and Highways (MoRTH) has issued a draft notification in this regard. As of now, only the driver side airbag was made mandatory by the govt, but with this new notification, dual front airbags are now a standard feature in all the vehicles sold in India.
Especially in case of the entry level cars in India, the move as seen a welcome change to promote road safety in India. Government made driver side airbag compulsory feature in all cars only last year. Since the AIS did not specify airbags for the front passenger’s seat as being mandatory, most automakers gave it a miss in the lower segments of their cars.
The notification now paves way to amend the existing Automotive Industry Standard (AIS), which looks after the standards of safety features in vehicles. Absence of airbags for the front passenger’s seat puts the occupant at high risk in case of a severe accident and the government had been mulling to make the necessary changes in rules for a while.
Ministry has issued Gazette notification regarding mandatory provision of an airbag for passenger seated on front seat of a vehicle, next to driver. This has been mandated as an important safety feature & is also based on suggestions of Supreme Court Committee on Road Safety pic.twitter.com/JALS5rzHmG— PIBIndiaMoRTH (@PIBMoRTH) March 5, 2021
While dual airbags are quite common in the higher variants of mid and high segments of cars, most carmakers in India charge extra for providing the extra airbag in the low budget vehicles. Maruti Suzuki does not provide dual airbags in its Alto, S-Presso, Celerio and Wagon R models, although they include the feature in the Optional (O) variants of these cars. Similarly, the feature is missing in the lower variants of Renault Kwid, Hyundai Santro and other cars.
As per the notification, the new rule is mandatory from April 1 in case of new vehicles, while the existing models being sold in India are mandated to make the necessary changes by August 1. The cost of the cars is expected to rise between Rs 5000 and Rs 8000 once the change is implemented in the entry-level cars. However, it will be the interest of the buyers who will get an additional layer of safety.