01 April, 2014

Safety an issue in Indian cars

Safety an issue in Indian cars

By - H. A. Patgiri.

Recently Global NCAP had done frontal impact test based on UN standards and UK standards for many leading car models manufactured in India. It was found that all the test cars failed the test due to lack of strong structure and airbags. Many of the cars are top selling Indian hatchbacks which is alarming. Now what is concerning is that when manufactures were asked about the result they simply replied that we are following the standards set by Indian Government and our cars meet or exceed these standards. So we can say that the Indian safety standards are far poor than UK or UN standards. The volume of cars and road users in India is far greater than UK. Not only that in India there are special road users also like cows and elephants, rickshaws and bicycles and God knows what; which are not seen in UK. So the Indian safety standards for Indian cars should have been at least similar to UK if not greater.

What is lacking in Indian car Safety Standards?

Well to be frank on this matter the main lacking is ignorance in the part of Indian Consumers. The Indian consumers simply accept what they get. They do not compere the standards with other countries. Had the Indian consumers demanded for better safety in their cars the manufactures would had been compelled to provide cars in higher standards. “When consumers demand manufactures comply.”
The second lacking is the ethical aspect of Indian car manufactures. Some companies whose cars failed the test exports the same models with better equipment to other countries which simply passes NCAP test with flying colours. So, safety of Indian consumers is not same as of say UK or US consumers in the eyes of these manufactures.
The third lacking is simply the ignorance in the part of the Government. Government feels that increasing the standards will lead in increasing cost of the product which will lead to consumer dissatisfaction. But the point Government misses is that there is simply no price for safety.
It is sad to report that in many Indian tows wearing seat belt is simply not compulsory till now. Drivers and passengers simply do not wear seat belt in highways. This kind of attitude has led to death of many innocent lives.
There should be effort to invite concern experts for establishment of Indian NCAP just like the EURO NCAP.
Improving the safety standards for Indian cars are all in our hands, simply ignoring them may lead to the loss of life of our near and dear once.


Technologies that may enhance the safety in Indian cars.

There are many technologies which can, not only enhance the safety but also save lives.

1. Seat Belts.

Seat belts were invented by English engineer George Cayley in the early 19th century. This vehicle safety device designed to secure the occupant of a vehicle against harmful movement that may result during a collision or a sudden stop. A seat belt functions to reduce the likelihood of death or serious injury in a traffic collision by reducing the force of secondary impacts with interior strike hazards, by keeping occupants positioned correctly for maximum effectiveness of the airbag (if equipped) and by preventing occupants being ejected from the vehicle in a crash or if the vehicle rolls over. Seat Belts are made legal compulsory for UK cars a long back.

2. Airbags.

Airbags were invented by German engineer Walter Linderer. An airbag is an occupant restraint system consisting of a flexible fabric envelope or cushion designed to inflate rapidly during an automobile collision. Its purpose is to cushion occupants during a crash and provide protection to their bodies when they strike interior objects such as the steering wheel or a window. Modern vehicles may contain multiple airbag modules in various sides and frontal locations of the passenger seating positions, and sensors may deploy one or more airbags in an impact zone at variable rates based on the type, angle and severity of the impact; the airbag is designed to only inflate in moderate to severe frontal crashes. Airbags are normally designed with the intention of supplementing the protection of an occupant who is correctly restrained with a seatbelt. Airbags are made legal compulsory for UK cars a long back.

3. ABS.

Anti-lock braking system (ABS) is an automobile safety system that allows the wheels on a motor vehicle to maintain tractive contact with the road surface according to driver inputs while braking, preventing the wheels from locking up (ceasing rotation) and avoiding uncontrolled skidding. ABS generally offers improved vehicle control and decreases stopping distances on dry and slippery surfaces. ABS would have been an effective tool in today’s Indian city traffic had it been made legal requirement. ABS is made legal compulsory for UK cars a long back.

4. ESC.

First traction control systems were introduced by Mercedes-Benz and BMW. Electronic stability control (ESC), also referred to as electronic stability program (ESP) or dynamic stability control (DSC), is a computerized technology that improves the safety of a vehicle's stability by detecting and reducing loss of traction. When ESC detects loss of steering control, it automatically applies the brakes to help "steer" the vehicle where the driver intends to go. Braking is automatically applied to wheels individually, such as the outer front wheel to counter over steer or the inner rear wheel to counter under steer. Some ESC systems also reduce engine power until control is regained. ESC does not improve a vehicle's cornering performance; instead, it helps to minimize the loss of control and increases safety. ESC has been made legal requirement for all new vehicles in UK since 2012.

5. Pedestrian Airbags.

Pedestrian Airbag system has been developed by Volvo Company. This system is just like any other airbag system. The pedestrian system is based on a sack and a gas hybrid generator that’s responsible for filling up the sack with gas according to information sent by the ECU. The system effectively works at city speeds.

6. AEB

Advanced Emergency Braking System (AEBS) or Autonomous Emergency Braking (AEB) is an autonomous road vehicle safety system which employs sensors to monitor the proximity of vehicles in front and detects situations where the relative speed and distance between the host and target vehicles suggest that a collision is imminent. In such a situation, emergency braking can be automatically applied to avoid the collision or at least to slow down to minimize damage.

7. DAS

Driver Alert System (DAS) is a system created by Volvo Company. If the system concludes that the driver is drowsing, it issues an audible alarm, and an icon depicting a cup of coffee flashes on the instrument panel.
Similar system is Driver Attention Warning System which uses a voice alarm. If a driver is nodding off, the car announces verbal alarms. The driver's seat is also vibrated to help arouse the driver.

There are even more technologies under development which will make car driving a lot safer and minimize if not eliminate increasing number of road accidents.

But it will be on the part of enforcement agencies, car manufactures and consumers to see that these technologies get implemented in newer vehicles.

Global NCAP tests also revealed; failure of the car’s structure due to lack of structural strength. This is also a concerning issue as manufactures are cutting corners in body design and manufacturing in the name of fuel economy and manufacturing costs. The enforcement authorities should take this matter very seriously and enforce necessary steps to improve structural integrity.

Why can’t the Indian cars be as good as the Germans and Swedish in name of safety and build quality? The manufactures should look into the matter as India is becoming a major player in global car market and that lives Indian or Non-Indian are same and precious.

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