Consumer education on vehicle safety requires greater involvement of vehicle makers and government agencies, say consumer activists.

“While lack of safety features in Indian cars is a major cause for high casualties in road accidents in the country, there isn’t adequate consumer education to prevent or survive accidents. Also, the attention paid to road safety by the government authorities is negligible,” Hemant Upadhayay, Advisor – Projects & IT, Consumer VOICE , a voluntary organisation in the interest of consumers, said at a seminar on car safety organised in by Consumer Association of India in collaboration with Consumer Voice recently .

He hoped that the new Motor Vehicle Bill 2017 would be cleared by Parliament soon. “It will be a big tool for the authorities to implement road safety measures in a proper way,” he added. He felt that consumer education would also be vital in curbing accidents and urged car buyers to give preference to safety features instead of looks, prices and other contents.

“Due to lack of customer demand, manufacturers are also not showing any urgency to incorporate safety features. Most of them wait for the regulations to do that,” he added. D Shanmuga Priya, Deputy Commissioner of Police – North (Traffic), Greater Chennai, said the police department was giving stronger thrust on sensitising and educating youngsters in the age group of 18-25 years, who are often detected for rash driving and causing injuries, mostly to pedestrians.

“We are also creating awareness at school level with a hope that the children will force their parents to follow safety measures while driving. In the last six months, we have conducted road safety awareness for 20,000 children,” she said.

She also asserted that the police department was implementing the traffic law in a stringent way and had cancelled licences of 10,000 people on various offences caused on the road.

Nirmala Desikan, Chairman and Managing Trustee, Consumer Association of India, highlighted that being the 6th largest car market with 2.03 million passenger cars sold in the country, road accidents in India were highest in the world.

She said safety features in cars sold in India were insufficient and ineffective when compared to developed countries or the same cars being exported out of India. About 30 per cent of the deaths are caused due to lack of safety features in Indian cars, she added.