If India Auto Inc has come a fair way, in recent years, on the global road safety roadmap, then it also has the Pune-based Automotive Research Association of India (ARAI) to thank. The nodal testing agency, set up in 1966 and the first to have a crash test facility in the country, has played a crucial role in enabling automakers achieve substantial gains in vehicle safety standards.
AV Mannikar, Senior Deputy Director & Head - Passive Safety Lab, ARAI is a regular at Autocar Professional’s safety conclaves and this year was no different. Mannikar is of the opinion that India, which is amongst the fastest growing mobility markets globally, has a big opportunity to catch up with global safety norms even as large numbers of new-generation vehicles have started hitting the roads.
"International agreements and government norms are pushing harmonisation of the safety roadmap in India. Quick implementation of vehicle crashworthiness, seatbelt application and crash norms have helped India technically align with crash norms,” said Mannikar.
He added, “While implementation of safety norms as per the roadmap will continue for minimum safety, initiatives like the Bharat NCAP should commence for enabling safety beyond norms.” The Bharat NCAP (New Car Assessment Programme) or Bharat New Vehicle Safety Assessment Program (BNVSAP) has been proposed for India to be implemented in phases but has been much delayed.
According to the ARAI executive, the New Safety Bill will act as an enabler for improving road safety in India and scientific collection of crash data will provide substantial inputs to improve safety measures.
According to Mannikar, India should first look forward to prioritising the minimum safety standard in all its mass transportation solutions. If this is not implemented, then any deficit arising out of it can lead to circumventing safety measures. “This needs to be addressed. Discipline, awareness and cost various aspects of safety implementation,” said Mannikar.
As per a presentation shared by Mannikar during the discussion, India has come a long way in the past decade vis-a-vis vehicular and road safety. India is a signatory of UNECE, WP-29, 1998 agreement and takes active part in the formulation of Global Technical Regulations. It has the responsibility to ensure that all motor vehicles are equipped with and meet regulations pertaining to seat belts, seat belts , set belt anchorages, offset frontal collision, side impact, application of pedestrian regulations, implementation of Bharat NCAP and encourage deployment of ESC and ABS.