The life of the public is at stake, knowing the cars in Pakistan lack safety features as there is no governing authority for an inspection mechanism in the country. The consumers are fooled by the so-called safety features offered on imported cars from Japan. Even our local auto industry is far from considering the importance of safety features in their cars. We are living in an advanced era where safety features in cars are offered as standard around the world, whereas they are still considered as a luxury in Pakistan. The major responsibility comes on the shoulders of the governments ruling in the country without giving any thought to such a critical issue that becomes responsible for many deaths every year. Safety features include the presence of seat belts and SRS airbags in the vehicle as a necessity. Although the availability of airbags never guarantees your life but definitely reduce the chances of major injuries in case of a collision. However, a combined effort of negligence from the government, auto manufacturers, and the car importers have made the situation terrifying to travel on the roads.
There is no safety checking mechanism in the country that could enforce the safety of the public. Such a situation provides easy grounds to the dealers who import accidental vehicles into Pakistan with either malfunctioning or no airbags. Even if an imported car comes with working airbags, there is a mafia which removes them from the car and sells it in the local market. SRS means supplementary restraint system, which indicates that it helps in protecting the passengers from critical injuries in case of an accident. Due to the absence of any check on the safety standards of vehicles, such practices have become regular in the market. However, there is just a periodic check of commercial vehicles present in the country under Motor Vehicle Ordinance 1965, and that too is not reliable due to the outdated equipment.
The imported accidental cars are much cheaper and an automatic preferred choice for the importers. The consumers don’t possess enough knowledge to check the safety of the vehicle while buying it, and as a result, the dealers exploit them. Furthermore, there are several hacks which can fool anyone about the presence of airbags in the vehicle. Even a malfunctioning airbag would not show any alarm indication in the meter cluster. A scanner is used for communicating with the electronic system of the vehicle which decodes any faults and displays them. Even a scanner is fooled by the bypass hack used by the hackers which doesn’t show any fault even in the case of no airbag installed in the vehicle. Those involved in such malpractices shall be dealt with under the law. The airbags system is not repairable and can only be changed once it gets faulty. The consumers don’t usually tend to change them as it costs as high as Rs.2-3 lacs.
Even if we talk about locally manufactured cars, only Toyota ensures safety as it offers airbags in all its vehicles. Otherwise, the other two Japanese auto giants in the country, i.e., Honda and Suzuki are yet to offer airbags as essential and standard equipment in their cars. Even the hot-selling Honda City doesn’t come with a single airbag in any of its variants which is ridiculous. However, Honda Civic comes with two airbags installed in it. Similarly, in certain models of Suzuki cars such as Wagon R and Swift, there is no airbag offered by the auto manufacturer. But, it’s good to know that the company has introduced its all-new 660cc Alto with this safety feature as standard.
The government needs to implement mandatory safety checks in all the vehicles in the country. There is a dire need of a governing body to ensure the installation of airbags in all the vehicles produced locally and inspection mechanism for those imported from Japan. There are certain departments such as Engineering Development Board (EDB), but this critical issue has never been brought under the spotlight. It’s time to formulate a policy framework to ensure the safety of the public on a priority basis.
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