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NEW DELHI : The ministry of road transport and highways (MoRTH) has issued a draft amendment to the Automotive Industry Standards or AIS 156, the set of rules that contains safety regulations for the Indian auto sector, to make safety belt reminders mandatory for passengers in the rear seat.

The draft amendment comes a few days after the accident that claimed the lives of former Tata Sons chairman Cyrus Mistry and his friend Jehangir Pandole, putting the spotlight back on the need for greater adherence to road safety rules and safer vehicles. Both Mistry and Pandole were sitting in the rear seat of a Mercedes Benz GLC and were not wearing seat belts. The driver of the car, Dr Anahita Pandole, who was wearing a seat belt, survived the crash, along with the other person sitting in front.

Draft Amendment 6 replaces the required provision for seat belt alarms for “driver and co-driver" with “driver and all other front-facing seat occupants". Seat belt alarms for the driver and front row co-passenger, called co-driver, were made mandatory in passenger vehicles in 2019, when the safety standards were amended to include a variety of additional safety features across vehicle segments, such as speed limit alarms, frontal and offset crash impact tests, and anti and combi-lock braking systems.

The new draft amendment is applicable to category M and N vehicles, which includes passenger four-wheelers and goods-carrying vehicles with four or more wheels.

The AIS 156 safety rules specify safety equipment that manufacturers are required to mandatorily install in the vehicles they ship to customers. The Central Motor Vehicle Rules mandate rear passengers to wear seat belts, but the rule has seen shoddy implementation at best.

Union minister for road transport and highways Nitin Gadkari has emphasized on multiple occasions that carmakers must adhere to the same level of safety standards for the domestic market as they do for export vehicles. Widespread industry pushback against an October deadline to mandatorily offer six airbags as part of a vehicle’s standard equipment has also delayed the rule’s implementation.

Gadkari has indicated that the rule will now be mandatorily implemented by the end of the year.

 

 

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