Indian roads are among the deadliest in the world—on an average, one person is killed on the country’s roads every four minutes.
To make matters worse, tests conducted between Sept. 2013 and Aug. 2014 have revealed that some of India’s most popular cars offer dangerously little protection to adult and child passengers, significantly increasing the risk of life-threatening injuries during head-on collisions.
Global NCAP, a UK non-profit that supports car consumer crash test programmes, ran crash tests at 64 kilometers per hour on eight Indian passenger cars. Seven of these returned with zero scores for adult protection.
The test assess the safety of two adults in the front seats (marked between 0 and 17 points), along with one 18-month-old infant and a three- year-old child (marked between 0 and 49 points).
Maruti Suzuki Alto
Maruti Suzuki’s best-selling Alto scored zero (PDF) for adult protection and 17.57 for child safety. The 924 kilogram car offered little protection to a driver’s head, chest and neck.
Maruti Suzuki Swift
The popular hatchback also got a zero (PDF) for adult protection, while managing to do even worse than the Alto for child protection with a score of 7.94. The car’s body shell was rated as unstable, with scant protection for a driver’s head and chest.
The Korean carmaker’s offering scored a dismal 6.97 on child protection. During the crash test, heads of both of dummies in the rear seats—a three-year-old child and another 18-months-old—hit the front backrests. Driver’s head and chest protection was also poor.
Once celebrated as the world’s cheapest car, the Nano offers little protection to a driver’s head, neck and chest due to the possibility of “hard contact with the steering wheel.” Safety analysis for children were not performed.
Ford’s hatchback had zero adult protection but scored 20.75 for child protection. While the car’s body shell was rate as stable, both the driver and passenger had little to protect their chests.
With zero points for adult protection (PDF) and 15.06 for the children in the backseat, the Datsun Go isn’t all that different from the Maruti Suzuki Alto. Both cars have little to help the driver with in case of a collision.
Volkswagen Polo (with two airbags)
The safest among all the cars tested mainly because of airbags, the VW Polo got 12.54 (out of 17) adult safety and 29.91 for child protection. The protection was deemed adequate for the head and chest of both the driver and the passenger.
Volkswagen Polo (without airbags)
Without airbags, the results were quite different. Adult safety dropped to zero points while child protection dropped to 26.97. The driver’s head, neck and chest received weak protection.