Welcoming the announcement by Union Minister for Road Transport and Highways Nitin Gadkari on deferring the decision of making six airbags mandatory till October 1, 2023, International Road Federation (IRF), a global road safety body, has said this provision should not be time-bound but governed by the survey, indicating how many people are wearing rear seat belts.
“The six airbags in passenger vehicles should be made mandatory once 85 per cent of the people start wearing rear seat belts. Once this figure crosses 85 per cent pan India, the government should go ahead making this provision of six airbags. Otherwise, it will become counterproductive and we will loose more lives,” said K.K. Kapila, President Emeritus, International Road Federation (IRF).
“A clarification to this effect may kindly be issued by the Ministry to give the right indication to the people that if you want to save your lives, please wear seat belts. Unless people start wearing rear seat belts, the provision of six airbags will become counterproductive leading to more fatal accident. In a crash, seat belts are primary restraint devices whereas airbags are supplemental support. Rather, several global studies have shown that if an airbag is deployed without having the seat belt on, it can cause severe injuries and even death,” said Kapila. According to MoRTH data, in 70 per cent of the 2- wheeler accident deaths, victims were found not wearing helmets; and in 87 per cent of the car accident deaths, victims were found not wearing seat belts. Sadly, 96 per cent of car passengers do not wear seat belts on the backseat.
“It is high time that we move away from the populist ideology of mandating regulations, safety devices like six airbags, but bite the bitter pill of enforcement and penalties that may affect masses. Of course, harsh measures will face resistance and give discomfort initially, but eventually they will become a habit,” Kapila added.”The IRF will prepare a one to one and a half minute film to highlight this point for screening on Cinema Halls and Television Network,” he added.