Malaysia: Local car manufacturers have agreed, in principle, to include airbags in saloon passenger cars as standard accessories by next year, said Transport Minister Datuk Seri Kong Cho Ha.

He said the move was aimed at reducing road deaths.

“In a recent meeting with local car producers Proton and Perodua, which I chaired last Thursday, both companies, agreed in principle,” Kong told reporters after launching a road safety campaign in conjunction with Chinese New Year here on Friday.

Only 50 percent of the cars produced annually by both companies were fitted with airbags, he said.

Almost all foreign saloon cars come with airbags.

Kong said his ministry would not force the manufacturers to fit the cars with airbags but wanted them to do it on their own volition to help reduce road fatalities.

Kong also said that although a such move would incur more expense for car buyers, safety was more important. However, he said four-wheel-drive vehicles were exempted from such requirements, for now.

To a question, Kong said his ministry could not do anything to force owners of existing cars to install airbags because it could only be fitted in factories.

“Seat belts can be installed three years after a buyer gets his car but that is not possible with airbags as it has to be factory-fitted, he said.

[SOURCE: The Star Malaysia]

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