Vision 2020 - aiming for zero
Since Volvo's foundation in 1927, they have invented some of the most important breakthroughs in car safety. The most famous invention is the three-point safety belt introduced in 1959, estimated to have saved over a million lives since.
But Volvo did not stop there. Their cars are packed with advanced passive safety features, such as airbags, safety cages and crumple zones. In recent years, with the advance of cameras and sensors, they have added active safety features like the City Safety with Autobrake technology, which helps avoiding and mitigating accidents inside and outside the city.
All these and other safety technologies are the result of Volvo's data and science-driven approach to technology development. They constantly collect and analyse accident data: their database contains information on tens of thousands of real-world accidents. They study them by running countless computer simulations, as well as physical crash tests at their state-of-the-art Volvo Cars Safety Centre. The insights they gain allow them to constantly develop new, world-first safety technologies and be one of the industry leaders. Volvo also actively share the knowledge they gather, to the benefit of society as a whole.
Three gaps to zero
While they have come a long way, there are still a few obstacles on the road to zero fatalities in their cars. More specifically, their safety experts have identified three ‘gaps to zero’ that they will address striving for their Vision 2020. And, realizing that technology alone will not get them there, they have expanded their scope to also focus on human behaviour.
The first problem is speeding. Speed limits are in place in most western countries, yet speeding is still ubiquitous and one of the most common reasons for fatalities in traffic.
As obvious a problem is intoxication. Driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs is illegal in large parts of the world, yet it remains one of the prime reasons for traffic injuries and fatalities.
The final danger area is distraction. Drivers distracted by, say, mobile phones or otherwise not fully engaged in driving are in many ways equally dangerous as drunk drivers.
To send a strong signal about the dangers of speeding, Volvo will limit the top speed on all its cars to 180 kph from 2020. They are also looking at how smart speed control and geofencing technology could automatically limit speeds around schools and hospitals in future.
Volvo will address intoxication and distraction via in-car cameras that watch over the driver. If a clearly intoxicated or distracted driver does not respond to warning signals and is risking an accident that might result in serious injury or death, the car will intervene by slowing down and parking safely.