NEW DELHI, March 30 (PTI): As many as 13,022 lives could have been saved in the country in 2020 if there were functional airbags in cars, Union Transport minister Nitin Gadkari told the Rajya Sabha on Wednesday, while asserting that new norms are being introduced to ensure the safety of vehicle users.
He said the transport ministry has notified the new norms and from October 1, it is proposed that all vehicles shall be fitted with six airbags, including side airbags.
Replying to supplementaries during the Question Hour, Gadkari said in 2020, a total of 8,598 lives could have been saved with the use of airbags after head-on collisions of vehicles.
“Every year, we face five lakh accidents and 1.5 lakh deaths. For that reason, we are now taking a number of measures. Six airbags are now mandatory. We have taken a decision to make it mandatory for the economy models also,” he said.
“As many as 25,289 people were killed in head-on collisions in 2020 and 30 percent of lives in frontal collisions can be saved by airbags.
“In 2020 alone, 8,598 lives could have been saved in head-on collisions with the use of airbags. Similarly, side collisions cost 14,271 lives and 31 per cent of those or 4,424 lives could have been saved with the use of side airbags,” the minister added.
“We want to protect the lives of people and that is why we are going to start this rating system, which is going to qualitatively improve the automobile sector and at the same time, there will be more exports that will lead to more employment potential and growth for the country,” he said.
Gadkari said the norms are already notified by the Ministry of Road Transport and Bharat NCap and our crash standards will improve considerably.
In a written reply, he said, “The Ministry of Road Transport and Highways is working on a proposal in consultation with the stakeholders to formulate a plan which would test and assess the star rating of a car under the Bharat New Car Assessment Programme (BNCAP).”
The programme will encourage the manufacturers to participate voluntarily in a safety-testing assessment programme and incorporate higher safety levels in new car models with regard to various identified parameters.
“The proposed assessment will allocate a rating of one to five stars,” Gadkari said.
The ministry has proposed that “M1” category vehicles, manufactured after October 1, 2022, shall be fitted with two side or side-torso airbags — one each for the persons occupying the front row outboard seating positions — and two side curtain or tube airbags — one each for the persons occupying the outboard seating positions.
The ministry has also proposed that all the front-facing seats in “M1” category vehicles, manufactured on or after October 1, 2022, be provided with three-point seat belts, Gadkari said.