Passive Safety in The Automotive Sector of India

New Delhi, Dec 5, 2011 (Washington Bangla Radio / PIB India) In the automotive sector parlance, passive safety features refer to systems designed to minimise injury to the occupants in the event of a crash as against active  safety systems that help drivers avoid accidents.  It is important to equip a vehicle with both active and passive safety features.

The Automotive Industry in India has been one of the key drivers of economic growth, with a CAGR of over 15% during the last 7 years.  In 2010-11, the total turnover of the Industry  stood at USD 73 Billion (Rs. 3,27,300 cr.) and its contribution to the Manufacturing GDP and the excise duty was 22% and 21% respectively.  Today, India is the largest manufacturer of tractors, second largest manufacturer of two  wheelers, 5th largest manufacturer of commercial vehicles and is an emerging global automotive hub.  The Indian automotive sector is now widely recognized for its enormous potential to be a growth engine and propel the country on a high growth path.

While the growth story, both in retrospect and prospect, sounds impressive and exciting, it also poses several areas of concern and challenges.  Increasing urbanization and motorization, rapid development of road infrastructure, introduction of faster vehicles and the changing driving pattern have brought to the fore the problem of  increasing number of injuries and mortalities resulting from road traffic accidents.  As per an estimate, about 125,000 people die and 450,000 get injured in India every year due to Road Traffic accidents.

Road Traffic Accident which used to be the tenth among the top ten causes of mortality in the country two decades back, is projected to occupy the fifth position in the list of major killers in the year 2020.  Some of the factors that increase the risk of road crashes in  India are unsafe traffic environment, poor road infrastructure, increasing number of motorized vehicles, lack of safety engineering measures and unsafe driving behaviour.  Improving prevention and mitigation of road traffic incidents in a low-income country like India will help to better use its scarce resources.

Road Safety is a multi-sectoral and multi-dimensional issue encompassing the development and management of road infrastructure, design of safer vehicles, legislation and law enforcement, mobility planning, urban land use planning etc.  In other words, its ambit spans engineering aspects of both roads and vehicles on one hand and the provision of post crash healthcare on the other.

World over, Nations have initiated various measures towards their commitment to check fatalities due to road accidents by way of improvement of roads, vehicle design, strengthening of active and passive safety systems and campaigns regarding safe driving.

Under the National Automotive Testing and R&D Infrastructure Project (NATRiP), three crash labs are being set up where vehicles will be tested for their crash worthiness.  With the commissioning of these crash labs by 2012, India will be equipped to design, develop and certify vehicles which conform to newly evolving safety standards.  Notification for new crash regulations are under formulation.   Crash test ratings will also generate awareness among the buyers to make informed decision on buying a vehicle keeping in view the safety features of the vehicle.

It is now required to incorporate latest technologies and safety regulations to ensure reduction of road traffic injuries through passive safety measures in particular.  The emphasis is to make Indian roads much safer.

- PIB Features, with inputs from M/o Heavy Industries & Public Enterprises

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