From the past few months we have seen the Government of India and specially the Ministry of Transport raising the safety concerns of vehicles from 2-wheelers to transport vehicles. The only segment that was not been touched is the most popular and probably the oldest public transport vehicle the Autorickshaw. There has not been a major change in the design of the autorickshaw ever since it launch,in fact the ones launched recently also follow the ancestral body structure in one or the other way.
Concerning over public safety Automotive Research Association of India (ARAI) is working on proposal to make seatbelts mandatory for vehicles under the L5M and L5N category. The L5M category are for a three-wheeler that are designed to carry passengers (passenger carrier) and the L5N category are for a three wheeler designed to carry goods (goods carrier). This proposal is a result of the tests conducted by Global NCAP in which the most popular hatchbacks failed the crash test in an unexpected way.
To make sure that the passenger safety is always met Government of India introduced the Bharat New Vehicle Assessment Program (BNVSAP) which will be functional by the end of the decade. Some of the changes suggested and made mandatory under this organization are, mandatory dual front airbags for all four wheelers and ABS as standard across all variants. ABS mandatory for all the bikes with engine capacity of 125cc or more. Mandatory speed limiters for all commercial vehicles that have been manufactured after the 1st of October,2015.
Although it is a good move to introduce seatbelts in autorickshaws, the real concern lies in the body and the frame structure which necessarily s made of sheetmetal and the roof, a soft vinyl fabric is connected to the main body by couple of thin rods. Incase of any accident will the body or frame of the autoricshaw can do nothing to protect the driver or the passengers, in such a scenario will adding seatbelts be sufficient?
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