Airbag, speed alert, parking sensor mandatory for cars from July 2019

Airbags, seat-belt reminders, alert systems for speeds beyond 80 kmph, reverse parking alerts as well as manual override over the central locking system for emergencies will be mandatory for all cars manufactured after 1 July 2019.

Union minister of transport Nitin Gadkari has approved the timeline for the implementation of these systems, which will be notified in a few days.

At present, only higher-end variants of passenger cars and luxury vehicles have such features, although these are crucial for the safety of occupants and pedestrians.

Thousands of people in India die in road accidents every year. In 2016, speeding alone accounted for nearly 74,000 of the 1,51,000 deaths in road accidents. "The new cars will be fitted with a system that issues audio alerts when the speed crosses 80 kmph. The alert will be sharper when the vehicle crosses 100 kmph, and non-stop when it's over 120 kmph," said a transport ministry official.

The manual override system would help easy exit in case passengers get trapped inside when the central locking system is rendered non-functional due to power system failure.

"To reduce the possibility of accidents while parking in reverse gear, the provision of reverse parking alert is being introduced. When the car is put in reverse gear, the feature will give an indication to the driver whether there are objects in the rear monitoring range," said the official.

These developments could lead to faster adoption of globally accepted crash tests for vehicles leading to better safety of passengers, say experts.

Transport ministry sources said airbags and reverse sensors would also be made mandatory for light commercial vehicles, which primarily run in urban areas.

Meanwhile, Gadkari has convened a meeting of all stakeholders to discuss issues involving e-rickshaws across the country today.

The meeting will discuss issues involving e-rickshaws across the country, as the number of battery-operated e-rickshaws surged in Delhi, a problem the government had not anticipated earlier.

Out of the 37,500 registered e-rickshaws in the city, 10,000 – nearly 27 per cent – are being operated by drivers with only a learner's licence, transport department records show.

This is not only a violation of the Motor Vehicles Act, but also a major safety hazard as they carry thousands of passengers every day.

According to the Act, anybody driving a vehicle with a learner's licence needs to have an instructor beside him.

In a bid to promote these eco-friendly vehicles, which serve as an effective medium for plugging last-mile connectivity, the department had agreed to register e-rickshaws against learners' licences.

But two years later, only 27,000 vehicle owners have got their permanent licences made, government records show. The department has no mechanism to track the 10,000 registered owners and get their driving test done.