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Road safety experts stress on importance of enforcement & education rather than govt focus on six airbags in passenger vehicles: IRF

New Delhi, September 22, 2022 (Yes Punjab News)
The recent move by the Ministry of Road Transport and Highways to make Six airbags mandatory in every car as an improved safety measure has its own shortcomings as the recent example of Late Mr Cyrus Mistry also indicates the same. The car had 7 airbags, still could not save the life as seat belt was not worn.

In a crash seat belt are primary restraint devices whereas Airbags are Supplemental support. Rather Several global studies have shown that if an airbag deploys without having the seat belt on, it can cause severe injuries and even death.

“Sadly, the data in India shows, more than 70% of the car occupants do not use seat belts in front and 96% do not wear seat belts on the backseat. India continues to grapple with the problem of Road Safety with the highest number of fatalities in the world, about 1.6 lakh every year.

Back in 2015, as part of the UN decade of action for Road Safety, we had pledged to reduce the number of road deaths by the year 2020. However, all these years we continued to do piecemeal efforts. Ministry of Road Transport and Highways (MoRTH) data of 2020 shows that, more than 64% of road fatalities happen with the Vulnerable Road Users (VRUs = Pedestrians + Bicyclists + 2-Wheelers).

The same data also shows that the VRU’s share in the fatalities has been on a constant rise over the past 5 years. VRU’s share in road fatalities has moved from 47% in 2016 to 49% in 2017, 55% in 2018 and 57% in 2019.” Said Mr K K Kapila, President, Emeritus, International Road Federation (IRF) working or better and safer roads worldwide.

“On the contrary, car occupant fatalities have constantly declined, from 18% in 2016 to 13.6% in 2020. In fact, in Delhi, India’s high vehicle density capital, VRU fatalities account for a whopping 89%, while fatalities of car inmates are about 5%. Contrastingly, while cars have been mandated with 10 different safety regulations in the last two years, we hardly have any strong regulatory measures focused to reduce VRU fatalities” he said.

“As per WHO report of 2018, India ranks 3 to 4 (on a scale of 10) on most of the Enforcement parameters like Helmets, Seat belts, Drunken Driving, Over Speeding. This contrasts with a much higher score of 9 to 10 for Enforcement in most of the developed world. Ironically, we benchmark the same countries when we draft the regulations for road safety but ignore them for benchmarking on Enforcement.” Said Mr Satish Parakh, President, IRF-India chapter.

“According to MoRTH data, in 70% of the 2-wheeler accident deaths, victims were found NOT wearing helmets; and in 87% of the car accident deaths, victims were found NOT wearing seat belts. Sadly 96% of car passenger’s 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. “ Mr Parakh added.

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