Published On : Mon, Aug 11th, 2014

Car Scare : Are safety features in sedans just an eyewash? Experts have the answers

Nagpur Today.

Case 1 : A plush Honda car in full speed with four passengers, all college students knocked a tree in the dark of night on Amravati road near University Campus square in Nagpur. The crash led to the death of two students on the spot, seriously injuring the other two. Experts feel the air bags meant for emergency safety failed to blow open at the right time, and could not provide the eleventh hour life-saving safety to the rider.

Case 2 : A Maruti Ritz car suddenly caught fire near Sai Mandir on Wardha Road here and engulfed in rich flames soon after. However, alert passengers disembarked the vehicle in time after sensing the danger, thereby avoiding any casualty. However, the car was charred to black.

These two recent incidents have raised a vital question over safety parameters of any car, especially over the air bag, which is one of the crucial safety features. Experts ask that are these safety specifications mentioned with the vehicle just for the name sake? Also, it has scared stiff the denizens, in terms of driving.

According to the recent statistics in Indian Market, four out of five small cars have failed the safety test, the crash test! It included names like Volkswagen Polo, Tata Nano, Alto 800 and Hyundai i10. The crash tests were based on UN standards, even as the manufacturers maintained they were complying with Indian norms.

So is this suppose to mean that in India, companies compromise over safety features, to improve other features that are appealing to the mass?

Although the crash test for companies are going to become mandatory, will the safety features still be reliable, as a real test just happened in Nagpur, that failed to provide any breather to the students riding Honda car!

Is it a matter of chance, if you lucky enough to have the air bag open in time, you are safe otherwise, gone?

Nagpur Today quizzed some experts in the industry

Better Wear seat-belts

Geoffrey Caston, General Manager, Ketan Hyundai, Nagpur when asked in this regard he said, “As per your query regarding air bags (Supplement Restraint System (SRS), please note that – in an impact, the sensors detect the sudden deceleration of the vehicle. If the crash is severe enough, electricity flows to the inflator and causes ignition of the gas generator, inflating the airbags fitted in the vehicle.

The other factors that are responsible for the airbags inflating are the angle and object of impact. At the same time it is advised that seat belts should always be worn as they restrict forward movement on sudden stop or impact. At the same time Emergency Lock Retractor (ELR) mechanism allows the freedom of movement under normal conditions.

Hence in case of this particular accident, I would just say that high speed should’ve been avoided, and driving should’ve been safer.”

High speed resists air bags

Mohammad Sharif, GM, Volkswagen, Nagpur said, “I’m not sure about what exactly must’ve happened, but we cannot deny the fact that in case of head on collision, the bang is incredible! In addition, the engine part in this came just pierced inside the car, proving that the speed as well must’ve been really high. However, people should know that air bag is just a protection, it absorbs the incredible jerk; but at this high speed, and head-on collision with solid, it doesn’t get time to inflate immediately. We educate the customers, we try our best, but people should as well keep in mind that inside the city 80 km should be the maximum speed. Attain the speed which one can control, I would suggest!”

Customers should aptly educated

The news of this grievous incident having crossed the city boundary, Sanjay Kumar, DGM, Provincial Motors, Chandrapur added, “Firstly, the concept of air bag depends on whether it was a head-on banging, or side bang of the car. Hence, if the driver is no more, has to mean that the air bag was of no use in this case.

I would even mention that the executives of an automobile company should be aware of every concept related to the car, and hence help and educate the customer accordingly. So many companies prepare cars, and they are quality conscious, especially Honda and Toyota, so we cannot really question the mechanism of air bag of steering or dashboard. But an automobile company should be able to let the buyer know the pros and cons of every part and safety feature of the car. Company puts all the features in the vehicle, whatever the requirement of today’s market is, but the guy who sells the car should be able to educate the customer aptly. The company employees should get training accordingly. Coming to the crash test scenario in India as compared to the European market, multinational companies have started taking the crash test at a better level. So we can expect better results now. In addition, the traffic regulation in India is also a sphere of concern, which has to improve.”