It’s a little too late? That’s my immediate reaction when Malaysian government decided to have airbags made compulsory for all locally produced passenger cars in 2012. Flashback last Friday when Malaysian Transport Minister Kong Cho Ha announced that air bags are compulsory for all passenger cars, with exception for 4WD under a gentleman’s agreement.
Local players like Proton and Perodua meanwhile have agreed to have at least one passenger airbag in their most basic spec model. That means the cheapest new locally made car in the market, the Perodua Viva 660 M will feature one passenger airbag. There is no airbag required for locally made 4WD like the not-so-well-known Chery Tiggo, a locally assembled cloned RAV4 from China. I have absolutely no idea why they are doing that, it might hint Proton may come out if a bare spaced 4WD or they want more people to die in 4WDs.
The gov may believed more lives will be saved by air bags, keeping drivers and passenger from harm when accidents occurs, which I agree in certain extend only. As most of our airbags are frontal airbags, what if the car was hit sideways? Picture this where when you cruising your new dual airbag Proton Saga into the T junction and all the sudden a bus hit you on the side. I hope I know your favourite flower, so that I can buy those to pay my final respect to you.
Today, most modern cars offer up to not 4, not 6 but until 10 airbags which covers from passenger airbags, side airbags, knee airbag, rear curtain airbag and even seatbelt airbag. Cars sold in Europe will have at least 2 airbags for basic models (requirement from the EU) and some model can have up to 6 air bags even for a supermini sized car. I have not even mentioned the inclusion of modern active safety features like Electronic Stability Control, Anti lock Brake (ABS), traction control system and any ABC to XYZ safety systems created by various manufacturers.
Already Volvo and Mercedes, the pioneers of road cars with excellent safety features, have already included Pedestrian Detection System which stops the car when it’s about to hit a pedestrian. Now, what we see is the government has decided to add at least one airbag into our cars. I might have lost count on the number of air bags fitted into a Volvo as standard.
Well it is still not a bad start for including airbags as standard, but I would rather they add another useful active safety system for cars. Anti Braking System ; Anti-Lock Braking System (ABS) is a useful feature for cars that prevent the brakes from locking in the event of emergency braking is applied. This means the brakes will stop the car in a shorter distance, hence saving the car and the driver.
ABS is not new and has been in many passenger cars for decades, but there are bare-spaced Malaysian made cars like the Viva and Saga do not have ABS even on it’s premium models. That’s a real shame as ABS will definitely add more valuable safety feature rather than having 2 airbags in front. Moreover those cars are well known as “Milo Tin” to many Malaysians.
But I must say, knowing the political climate so well, I won’t be surprised if the main manufacturer of airbags in Malaysia, Autoliv Hirotako, have connections to our ministers. A check revealed that one of the board of directors was our Deputy Minister and former MCA man Datuk Fu Ah Kow. So, cronyism detected folks?
Let’s not forget, this also means the price of cars will be slightly increased to accommodate air bags as standards. With the problem of local suppliers supplying sub-standard power window to countless Proton per 2005, the last thing we want is airbags that do not work in event when your car involved in a head on collision. Or when you’re driving on a very safe and calm road and all of a sudden the airbag pops up, “SUPRISE!!”.
However, it is still better late than never. Maybe countless lives will be saved and live to continue using our roads, causing massive traffic jams and making all of us late to work. That’s my friend, will be my next topic of discussion some other time…….