Safety first

Tata Motors' crash-testing facility, the only one of its kind in the country, ensures that the company's cars are up to the task of providing the best of protection to passengers

Mumbai: Nikhil Hariharan has vague memories of the day he could have died, but that decisive moment when he sidestepped disaster is etched in his mind. Hariharan was driving to work on a bright March morning when an oncoming car swung out of control and slammed head-on into his vehicle. "The crash happened in a split second, but I remember it in slow motion," he says. "The car seemed to implode. The bonnet, the dashboard, the steering wheel, everything kind of caved in."

Hariharan escaped with minor bruises, but the driver whose recklessness led to the crash wasn't so fortunate: he ended up with serious injuries and many excruciating months in a hospital. Looking at the two crashed vehicles in the immediate aftermath of the accident, one would have presumed the opposite effect on those inside them. The front portion of Hariharan's car, an Indica, was a wreck, while the other vehicle emerged from the collision relatively undamaged.

The sharply contrasting results of the crash on the two cars and their drivers were reflective of the different safety principles that came into play at the moment of impact. Hariharan's Indica was engineered to protect him in such a situation; his fellow-protagonist in the bust-up had no such shield. "I did not give the safety factor much thought when I purchased the Indica," says Hariharan. "But the crash convinced me that this is the safest car of its kind in India. It saved my life."

The Indica's safety characteristics are testimony to the commitment of Tata Motors, the manufacturer of the car, in providing the best possible protection to those using its vehicles. The entity entrusted with the task of ensuring passenger safety is the company's crash-test facility. Located at Tata Motors' huge plant in Pune, this is the only installation of its kind in the country.