We all know that the government of India has allowed quadricycles to ply on the Indian roads. The vehicles are only allowed as a transport vehicle carrying both passengers and good within city limits and on rural roads. This has opened a path for the Bajaj's RE60, and is expected to hit the Indian market soon. However, International Road Federation (IFR) disagreed on the same, and said that it will further increase the fatalities in road accidents in India.
Disregarding the fact that India tops the world in fatalities in road accidents – 144,000 in 2011 – the government’s proposed move to consider quadricycles is fraught with the danger of further deteriorating road safety and pollution in the country. It seems like India is influenced by Europe in the introduction of quadricycles, as in Europe itself the sales of quadricycles were a meagre 23,800 in 2011. As a result of increased awareness of their inferior occupant safety compared to normal cars, the three main traditional markets, France, Italy and Spain, have seen their sales fall from a high of 29,000 in 2007 to just 18,000 in 2011. They are at present used either by the very elderly or the very young who do not qualify for regular car driving licences.
In 2007, the European Transport Safety Council, the apex body of safety regulations in Europe, said that fatality risk in a quadricycles is 10 to 14 times more than that in cars. As per reports in 2006, quadricycles resulted in 16 per cent of the road deaths in 25 European countries. The European Commission and European Parliament are at present deliberating on the adverse impact of quadricycles on road safety and environment.
The move to introduce quadricyles in India seems to be driven by the belief that they can be a cheaper than passenger cars. In a classic case of putting the cart before the horse, the government has created a panel to propose quadricycle specification, without even evaluating whether such a vehicle type is at all required. In fact, today’s entry level passenger cars have near European Union level safety and emission norms and are yet affordable, as is seen in the growth of entry level cars in the country over the last decade.
However, a study shows that there are at least 40 critical safety features, applicable to passenger cars in India, which will need to be compromised if the Indian quadricycle emulates the European quadricycle. This will make quadricycles vulnerable to fatal accidents, thereby further deteriorating India’s road safety records. Among critical life-saving features which could be missing with such emulation are protection against the head form impact, body block, frontal crash protection and side door intrusion protection.
Similarly, Europe–like quadricycles will also set the country backward in emission control. Emissions of such quadricycles are 8 times more than that of a petrol M1 category car and 4 times more than that of diesel N1 category pickups, as per norms prevalent in India.The government, the industry and consumer organisations are at present deliberating on advanced practices like fuel economy labels, a recall policy, and European standard car safety norms. The introduction of quadricycles flies against this proposed advancement and endangers lives of consumers and the quality of environment, in a most retrograde move.
Experts knowledgeable of worldwide usage/Purpose of Quadricycle agree in unanimity that Tyagi Committee recommendations submitted to the MoRTH does not address the real issue. Around the globe Quadricycles are used for special purpose only and very much essential in services needing special constructional & functional requirements like beach side medical emergency & rescue Vehicles, All terrain forest guards and Police Patrol Vehicles, Fire Fighters, Mining, golfing, recreational and handicap vehicles. Today our Indian Society is deprived of such essential vehicles because CMVR does have any provision for approving such vehicles. This issue was the genesis of discussion of Quadricycle in CMVR when such request was brought to the notice of ARAI and Ministry of Road Transport. Somehow this real agenda was high jacked and issue got diverted when Quadricycle got proposed under the garb of committee recommendations appointed by Hon’ble Karnataka High Court which was looking into possible improvement in safety features of 3 Wheeler in India.