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Posted at: Dec 1, 2018, 2:32 AM; last updated: Dec 1, 2018, 2:32 AM (IST)GOOD MOTORING

Crash guards don’t work. Here’s why

The add-on defies the purpose it is supposedly meant for
Crash guards don’t work. Here’s why

H. Kishie Singh

There seems to be some confusion about crash guards. The police were challaning cars with crash guards on the front only. They said crash guards at the rear were exempt. Please note crash guards, front or rear, are illegal. No exemptions.

Section 52 of the Motor Vehicles Act reads, “No owner of a motor vehicle shall so alter the vehicle that the particulars are at variance with those originally specified by the car manufacturer”.

The Chandigarh Police challan book leaves no ambiguity on this point either. You will be challaned under Section 70, which reads, “Unauthorised post-registration alteration of vehicle engine/ basic structure”.

Car manufacturers do not homologate cars with crash guards. This means that when you are buying and fitting this ‘after sales’ accessory, the seller is aiding and abetting you to commit an illegal act.

Let’s see ‘what after sales’ means. Did your car come with a roof rack? No? Then it is illegal. Extra wide tyres? Illegal. Extra lights or pressure horns? Illegal. Converting a petrol engine to diesel or LPG or CNG. All illegal. The point is simple and clear. The car must maintain its original specifications.

This again can cause confusion. The original Renault Duster did not have a crash guard. This is how the car was homologated. The limited edition Duster came with a crash guard. This was not homologated. Who do you chaallan? The car owner or the car manufacturer, Renault.

What is meant by homologation? It is permission to approve or officially confirm in the process of certifying or approving a product to indicate that it meets regulatory standards and specifications such as safety and technical requirements. In other words, ‘certificate of conformity’.

The Automotive Research Association of India, ARAI, is the only competent authority to certify and homologate vehicles. The reason for no crash guards on sedans is that, most sedans today have a monocoque (one piece) construction body; as such, it has no chassis.

However, it does have crumple zones. In case of a collision, the crumple zones are designed to absorb the impact-generated energy. It will not affect the main body of the cabin where the passengers sit.

If you had a crash guard at the front, bolted or welded, the guard absorbs the impact-energy, and since it is a part of the car, it transfers the impact-force into the cabin, harming the passengers.

Now imagine this. Car 1 has removed his front crash guard but has retained the rear crash guard. Car 1 is waiting at a red light. Car 2, without a crash guard, comes and collides with Car 1. This could transfer the impact energy into the cabin of Car 2. It will also transfer the impact-energy into Car 1, thanks to the rear crash guard! Got it? No matter where the crash guard is, it will negate the purpose of the crumple zone.

Most SUV’s do not have monocoque bodies. They have a ladder frame chassis, which can accommodate a crash guard. They do that when preparing a rally car. In that case, the vehicle is not street-legal!

Another reason for banning crash guards is that they are not pedestrian friendly. Imagine, a 2-ton SUV with a crash guard, travelling at 40 kmph coming into contact with a flesh, bones and blood person!

Happy Motoring!

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