Similar to the mandatory third-party motor insurance, the Ministry of Road Transport and Highways (MoRTH) has made 6 airbags mandatory in all cars starting October 2023. In the wake of the rising number of road accidents in India, Minister of Road Transport and Highways Nitin Gadkari said that all M1 category passenger vehicles must have 6 airbags to ensure the safety of the passengers.
Initially, the road transport ministry was set to make 6 airbags mandatory in all 8-seater passenger vehicles starting 1st October 2022. However, it could not be implemented due to supply chain disruptions in the global automobile manufacturing sector.
In July 2019, the Government made it mandatory for all cars to have a driver airbag. Later, in January 2022, dual front bags were made compulsory to protect the driver and front seat passenger in the event of an accident.
The accidental death of Cyrus Mistry, the former Tata Sons Chairman, at Palghar in Maharashtra in September 2022 stirred raging debates over road safety measures in India.
What is the M1 category of vehicles?
The M1 category of vehicles refers to passenger vehicles equipped with up to 8 seats, including the driver’s seat. The M1 category of vehicles includes MUVs, SUVs, hatchbacks, and sedans.
The new rule prioritises the safety of all passengers travelling in cars notwithstanding the cost or the variant of the vehicle. Previously, Nitin Gadkari had urged car manufacturers to adopt safety norms for ensuring the safety of passengers, especially those using economy cars.
He had said that most automobile manufacturers in India export cars equipped with 6 airbags but are hesitant to sell them in India due to their high cost. He highlighted that not much thought is given to the safety of people driving economy cars in India.
If you are a car owner, think of your financial protection. Purchasing comprehensive car insurance is a step in that direction. It is a good strategy to compare various car insurance online and choose the plan that best suits your needs.
A note about the safety mechanisms in cars
Both airbags and seatbelts are part of the safety mechanism in cars. Seatbelts secure the seat occupants and prevent them from being thrown out by force. On the other side, airbags fitted into cars interfere between the driver and the hard surface on the front during the collision, reducing the possibility of serious injuries. An airbag is an inflated safety device designed to protect passengers during road accidents. However, an airbag alone is not enough. You must be wearing your seatbelt for the airbag to save you.
An airbag comprises a diagnostic monitoring unit, a steering wheel connector coil, an airbag module, an indicator lamp, and crash sensors. All these airbag constituents are integrated and powered by the car battery.
When abrupt decelerations are detected, the crash sensors start transmitting electrical signals, activating the initiator. As a result, there is a rapid chemical reaction, which leads to nitrogen emissions and bloating of the airbag immediately.
Because of this, a plastic module inflates to protect the passenger from hitting anything hard in the front due to the impact. After inflating for one-tenth of a second, the bag deflates in three-tenths of a second after the impact. Airbags contain a mixture of cornstarch and talcum powder and this mix gets released when the bag opens.
Road Accidents: India Statistics
As per the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) statistics, over 1.55 lakh people lost their lives in road accidents in India in the past year. Besides, the “Road accidents in India – 2020” report mentions that over 11% of the total number of deaths and injuries occurred because travellers not wearing seatbelts.
Going by these records, the MoRTH is taking all necessary steps to improve the safety of passengers travelling on Indian roads. Installing 6 airbags mandatorily in passenger cars is one of the steps taken towards road safety.
How will the mandatory 6-airbags rule affect insurance premiums?
Comprehensive motor insurance covers airbags. However, it does not provide full coverage due to the depreciation component. You must know that the depreciation percentage for replacing airbags in such plans can go up to 50%.
Now, to safeguard yourself against high depreciation costs, you should opt for zero depreciation cover along with comprehensive car insurance. This way, you will receive compensation for the total loss without factoring in the depreciation rate for up to 5 years.
Essentially, always compare car insurance online plans to make sure you are getting the best deal.
The mandatory 6-airbags rule is a much-needed reform, addressing the road safety issues on Indian roads. Even so, besides this safety feature, more efforts are needed to reduce the overall car costs for lowering the burden on car owners.