Road safety involves many factors other than airbags and ABS

Being a reporter, I was going through the papers in the morning and two accidents caught my attention. Both of them were gory and unfortunate and both had everything to do with safety.

Now, topics about safety have all been discussed in detail and we at News Today have given extensive coverage on the matter. But there is one piece of the puzzle no one dares to talk about – that fatalities will be there no matter how safe a car or a vehicle is.

That is because there are numerous external factors that contribute to an accident, in India at least.

You see, even though a car has five star ratings, and is touted to be the safest in its class, people end up losing their lives. It doesn’t necessarily have to to be the people in the safer car, because the car into which it rams into might not be as safe.

So, it is all but a mystery this topic of safety because, well, the Global New Car Assessment Programme (Global NCAP) spends thousands of dollars crashing cars that automakers built, using err… thousands of dollars and yet such catastrophes happen.

Last night, a biker lost his life in Tamilnadu having fallen into a pit that was dug by the Highways Department for laying the foundation for an upcoming flyover there. The biker fell not because he was under the influence of alcohol (because that is what people assume youngsters do on the eve of New Year), but because there wasn’t a single sign or warning cone to alert the rider and avoid mishap.

Such negligence cost him his life. Now where does ABS and CSB become effective here? ABS will not form an invisible protective layer while a person is pirouetting himself down a ditch.

There are many such cases as well, where negligence, particularly human negligence has cost so many lives.

Had the authorities made sure that the contractor kept warning signs, had they ensured that the road was lit, the poor chap might very well be alive and kicking, possibly sending out bulk messages to everybody he knows, wishing them a happy New Year. But that was not the case.

While taking up a case study of many an accident, what one will find is that despite the car being safe, and people shelling out more money to get safety features, they seem to be ineffective. But are they?

Well, when people do not bother wearing seatbelts, following speed limits, lane discipline, and generally the rules, and when authorities are not concerned about laying better roads, keeping signs at appropriate places, ensuring safety and generally the rules, I’m afraid deaths will continue to happen in India despite politicians boasting about growth.

In an ideal world where people follow all the rules and authorities do their work, cars with five-star ratings will be safe, as it has been proved on many occasions in developed countries.

Those cars are tested for frontal, offset, side and rear impacts, apart from rollover tests: they proved that they can save a life when something goes terribly wrong. It doesn’t matter that the crash test speeds are ‘just’ 64 kph, because if a car can withstand that impact against a solid concrete block, then it is testimony that it can handle a crash against a moving vehicle, because, remember, the opposite vehicle has crumple zones and deformable structures too.

Have a happy New Year, folks.

Praveen Kumar S