The Standard Safety Features Indian Cars & Bikes Will Get in 2019
Automakers are scrambling to meet the deadlines to fit mandatory safety features to all existing models.
It’s 2019 and many car and bike manufacturers are scrambling to update their models. They are working against a tight deadline because between April 2019 and October 2019, all existing models of cars and bikes have to comply with the new government mandated safety norms for cars and two-wheelers in India.
For you, the consumer, it means you will get additional features and, of course, safer vehicles. But the downside is that you will end up paying a few thousand rupees more for these features. These features have been standard on all new models of cars and bikes launched after April 2018, but now it’s the turn of existing vehicles to comply.
What’s new? Well, here’s a list.
Mandatory ABS / CBS for Two Wheelers
All two-wheelers will have to come with safer braking features. For smaller bikes and scooters with an engine capacity below 125 cc, the government mandates CBS (combined braking system) as a form of safety.
Two-wheelers usually have a separate front brake lever and rear brake pedal or lever. With CBS, the two brakes are interconnected, so if the rider presses just the rear brake or just the front brake, the brake on the other wheel will apply proportionately as well. This could prevent scooters or bikes from skidding and crashing.
Motorcycles and scooters above 125 cc will need to have ABS (anti-lock braking system) – either dual channel or single channel. It prevents the wheel from locking up even when the brakes are slammed hard, allowing the rider to maintain control.
Single channel ABS means this feature will be available on only one of the wheels, while dual channel would mean it’s present on both wheels.
Always-on Headlamp or DRL for Two-Wheelers
The feature of headlamps always remaining on or daytime running lamps being fitted, became mandatory in April 2017 itself. This is to make two-wheelers more visible on the road. This has led almost all bike and scooter manufacturers to do away with the headlamp switch altogether, as the headlight has to stay on the moment the bike is started.
However, this has led to many bike buyers complaining about the shorter life-span of their headlamp bulbs. To counter that manufacturers are now resorting to LED headlamps or fitting a separate LED daytime-running light (DRL) to the vehicle instead.
Mandatory ABS for all Cars
All cars, irrespective of the variant, whether base model or top-spec model will have to come with ABS. This is a key safety feature for cars, as it will offer the driver far more control over the vehicle.
In cars without ABS, if the front wheels lock up on panic braking, the car will skid and likely crash into the obstacle its trying to avoid. With ABS, the driver gets enough traction to be able to steer the car around the obstacle, as it prevents the wheels for locking fully, by rapidly releasing and engaging the brakes at the point of wheel lock-up.
This comes into effect in April 2019. All cars, buses and trucks sold after 1 April will be fitted with ABS.
Mandatory Airbags for Cars
To make Indian cars safer after international crash tests have thrown up some appalling results, the government has mandated at least a driver airbag to be fitted in all models of cars.
Most models will come with dual airbags as standard (driver and front passenger airbag), while entry-level models may have only a driver airbag to cut costs, while higher-end models will have multiple airbags.
An airbag is a supplementary restraint system (SRS). It is designed to work in conjunction with the seat-belt to prevent injuries to the driver or passenger. If it deploys in a crash and the driver/passenger is not wearing a belt, the airbag itself can be lethal.
Seat-Belt Warning System
Given the pretty dismal use of seat-belts in cars in India, the government has made it mandatory for all cars made after July 2019 to come with seat-belt warning beeps and warning light. This will be for both the driver and the front passenger seat.
At a recent road safety conference, Transport Minister Nitin Gadkari also said he plans to make this seat-belt reminder mandatory for all seats in the vehicle, including rear seats.
Speed Warning System
All vehicles made after July 2019 will have to be fitted with a speed-warning system. At a speed of 80 kmph, the vehicle will emit a warning beep. At a speed of over 120 kmph, the vehicle will beep continuously, to warn the driver against speeding.
Speed limits in India are 90 kmph on most National highways, 100 kmph on expressways and up to 120 kmph on some expressways like the Eastern Peripheral Expressway around Delhi.
Commercial vehicles (cabs) have it rough though. They will have to be speed-limited electronically to 80 kmph only.
Mandatory Reverse Parking Sensors
Reverse parking sensors will no longer be sold as accessories. They will be part of the standard fitment list of all cars. The government says this will help warn the driver of obstacles just behind the vehicle and prevent mishaps, especially since there have been rising instances of children and pets getting run over by a reversing vehicle.
The basic sensors will emit beeps to warn the driver of obstacles behind, while top-spec vehicles will also have a display showing the distance to obstacle or even a reverse camera to assist the driver. This comes into effect in July 2019.
Cabs Without Child Locks
Although child safety locks are part of standard equipment on the rear doors of all cars sold in India, the government has made it mandatory for cabs to remove child locks from the rear doors.
The reason behind this move is the increasing crimes against women, where drivers’ have deployed the child locks making it impossible for the passenger to open the rear door from inside, while they can only be opened from outside.
Central Locking with Manual Override
All cars that come with electronic central-locking systems will be fitted with a manual override system as well. This will help prevent passengers from getting trapped inside a vehicle in case of a crash or a fire, which renders the electrical system inoperable.
This has come about after a number of deaths caused due to the central locking system jamming in the event of a fire.
New Crash Test Norms
From October 2019, all cars in India will have to pass the new stringent crash test norms.
India’s Bharat New Car Assessment Program (Bharat NCAP) mandates that cars have to pass a 48 kmph full-frontal crash, a 50 kmph side-impact crash test and 56 kmph front-offset impact test. Internationally, these tests are carried out at 64 kmph, which makes Indian norms still a little more lenient compared to international norms.
All cars models that have been launched in India after 1 October 2017 already comply with this directive, while all existing car models will have to meet this requirement in October 2019.
This means that many old-school vehicles will cease to exist in India beyond this date. These include vehicles like the Maruti Omni, Tata Nano and others.
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