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Array of Indian cars fails safety test: watchdog

NEW DELHI --Several of India's most popular car models, including the famously small Tata Nano, crumpled in independent crash tests in ways that would likely lead to fatality or serious injury, a global car safety watchdog said Friday.

The results are an indictment of the auto industry in India, which lacks adequate safety standards, said David Ward, head of the London car-safety watchdog Global NCAP, which performed the crash tests. India has some of the deadliest roads in the world.

Drivers should be “educated and protected by regulation, but that's not happening in India,” said Ward.

India's growing middle class, anxious to buy new cars, has helped fuel a booming auto industry while demanding little in terms of safety. Last year India produced 3.2 million cars, nearly twice the 1.7 million manufactured in the 2008 fiscal year. For the bulk of those sold within India, air bags and rear passenger seat belts were optional, and none was required to be tested for its ability to withstand a collision.

The lack of safety features, combined with reckless driving and shoddy roads, has helped give India a road death rate that is more than six times as high as that of the United States and nearly three times China's rate, according to the World Health Organization's 2013 road safety report on the number of deaths compared with the size of a country's car fleet.

Seen another way, one in 10 people killed in a road accident worldwide is Indian.

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Motorists drive past stray cows roam on a road in Allahabad, India, Friday, Jan. 31. Several of India's most popular car models crumpled in independent crash tests in ways that would likely lead to fatality or serious injury, a global car safety watchdog said Friday. (AP)

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