Don't allow unsafe cars: HC to Centre

Small Indian cars fail global safety norms, fatal risk to driver even at 56 kmph

The first-ever independent crash tests of some of India's popular and important small cars have shown a high-risk of life threatening injuries in road crashes. All the cars selected by Global NCAP for testing in a frontal impact at 64km/h received zero-star adult protection ratings.

BY Our Staff Reporter

Guwahati, June 27: In a landmark order, the Gauhati High Court has asked the Central government not to permit auto manufacturers to release and sell small four-wheelers without crash and emission tests. The order was passed by Chief Justice (acting) K Shreedhar Rao and Justice PK Saikia on a PIL filed by Mukesh Agarwal and Rita Das Mazumdar who raised concerns about safety norms of four-wheelers  - both passenger and goods carrying.

The interim order pertains to four-wheeler cars with a mass up to 1,500 kg.

In their PIL, the petitioners argued that small passenger cars produced by manufacturers in India do not conform to safety standards and are not put to the scrutiny of crash-testing (frontal impact test). The petitioners also produced a report of the European New Car Assessment Programme (ENCAP) which stated that small cars manufactured in India have failed crash tests.

Tests conducted have revealed that frontal collision in a simulated state with driving speed at 60 kmph proved dangerous to life and limb of driver and passenger, notwithstanding provision of seat belts.

Two tests were carried out by the global car safety watchdog on identical cars of the same make - meaning two of each car were procured by Global NCAP from Indian showrooms, and shipped to Germany for the tests. One crash test was performed at 56 kmph, the other at 64 kmph.

All five cars failed the test, landing a zero on a scale of 1-5.

Also, none of the cars had airbags - one of the most basic prerequisites globally to pass a safety test.

The crash alysis showed the crash-test-dummies having sustained near-fatal injuries, more so in case of the driver. The structural integrity of the cars was also deemed as unstable.

Even though small cars are affordable, fuel efficient, emit less carbon and are easy to park, yet concerns regarding their safety have often been raised and hotly debated.

The High Court has fixed July 29 as the next date of hearing.

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Sentinel Assam