Posted by: alok | June 8, 2006

‘Death-Traps’ on Indian Roads..!

No I can’t be a silent spectator to the whole ‘Death Trap’ automobiles in the market. Recent incident of a Honda City catching fire and the passengers inside couldn’t find a way out.. courtesy ‘Central Locking System’. Then yesterday we had the same incident for Wagon R, and last year it was suffocated passengers in cars stranded in Mumbai Floods. Should we let the automobile giants scout free? Would the lawmakers or insurance companies or consumer right activists in a ‘Developed’ Country absolve the manufacturers.

I am not an expert on automobile security systems (I don’t possess one, and I am scared to buy one after these incidents). Now, since I don’t know if the central locking system was the real culprit for people being charred to death, or something which media is not reporting, I should not vindicate one party or the other. But I assume, that any sane person’s first reaction in an eventuality like these would be to get out of the vehicle. So the passengers must have tried their best to open the door, slide the window panes, or even break it. It makes me shiver at the thought that there is no emergency exit plan installed in the car. Couldn’t the manufacturers provide manual system which can be used only from inside, in addition to any-other security gadgets they provide?

This has become a common discussion at dining tables. There are ‘experts’ who suggest that the car-locks can just be pulled out and the doors will open, ‘you kick on the edges of the windshield and it will come out’, to the ones like keeping a hammer and fire-extinguishers in the car, etc. Ya hammer and fire-extinguishers make sense, but can’t the manufacturer themselves provide an exit route (and I am not talking about Convertibles, or vehicles with soft canvas roof)

I remember Mitsubishi Eclipse, Pontiacs, Chevrolet Impala, and Civic, Corrolla (ya, these are low-cost budget cars in US) you can bend the rear seat of the car mechanically and access the trunk of the car, even from inside. (We used to have all our food and beverages stuffed there on long-drives, and we didn’t have to stop and get out of the car to reach the stuff). If such a facility is available, can’t we extend it to allow the trunk to be opened from inside. If we have this, then the passengers can atleast crawl-out out in case of emergency, when all the doors are jammed, window-panes are stuck, the windshield can’t be broken.

Or is it that there are escape-routes, which a normal car-buyer is not even aware of like the famed – ‘Undocumented-DOS?


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