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This safety feature may soon become mandatory on all cars in India

In a move to enhance safety features in vehicles, the government of India is planning to make airbags for the front passenger seats mandatory. The Ministry of Road Transport and Highways (MoRTH) has issued a draft notification in this regard. The notification paves way to amend the existing Automotive Industry Standard (AIS), which looks after the standards of safety features in vehicles.

As of now, dual front airbags are not a standard feature in many cars, especially in case of the entry level cars in India. Last year, the government made airbags for the driver’s seat a compulsory feature in all cars. Since the AIS did not specify airbags for the front passenger’s seat as being mandatory, most automakers gave it a miss in the lower segments of their cars.

Absence of airbags for the front passenger’s seat puts the occupant at high risk in case of a severe accident and the government has been mulling to make the necessary changes in rules for a while.

While dual airbags are quite common in the higher variants of mid and high segments of cars, most carmakers in India charge extra for providing the extra airbag in the low budget vehicles. Maruti Suzuki does not provide dual airbags in its Alto, S-Presso, Celerio and Wagon R models, although they include the feature in the Optional (O) variants of these cars. Similarly, the feature is missing in the lower variants of Renault Kwid, Hyundai Santro and other cars.

The government is yet to decide a timeline to bring the new rule in effect. According to the ministry officials, a period of one year may be given for the carmakers to adopt the changes once the amendment comes into effect.

The cost of the cars is expected to rise between Rs 5000 and Rs 8000 once the change is implemented in the entry-level cars. However, it will be the interest of the buyers who will get an additional layer of safety.