In a measure to boost passenger safety, the Ministry of Road Transport and Highways has proposed to make it mandatory that an airbag be provided for the passenger seated on the front seat of a vehicle, next to the driver.
The proposed timelines for implementation are April 1, 2021, for new models and June 1, 2021, for existing models. At present, providing airbags for the driver is mandatory. In this regard, the Centre has invited stakeholders to comment on its proposed new rule in the next one month. Earlier, the Centre had made having an airbag mandatory for the driver’s seat in all cars. This had come into effect on July 1, 2019. “Vehicles manufactured on and after 1st Day of April 2021, in the case of new models, and 1st day of June 2021, in the case of existing models, shall be fitted with airbag for the person occupying the front seat, other than the driver. The requirement for such airbag shall be as per AIS 14, under the Bureau of Indian Standards act, 2016,” the draft notification issued by the Transport Ministry stated. A draft notification to this effect has been published on the ministry’s website, the statement said.
For now, only the driver’s seat airbag is mandatory for all cars. However, this leaves the passenger in the front seat completely vulnerable to severe injury or even death in case of accidents as the passengers in the front seat are not protected by the airbag. Low-cost inclusions such as speed alert, reverse parking sensors and seat-belt reminders are some of the standard features in most cars but life-saving airbags are still not mandatory in India.