Volvo Cars says it is sending a strong signal about the dangers of speeding in limiting the top speed of all its cars to 180km/h from 2020.
The company’s Vision 2020, which aims for no one to be killed or seriously injured in a new Volvo car by 2020, is one of the most ambitious safety visions in the automotive industry. But Volvo Cars says it is now broadening its scope to include a focus on driver behaviour, after realising that technology alone will not get it all the way to zero.
The company’s own research has identified three remaining concerns for safety that constitute ‘gaps’ in its ambition to completely end serious injuries and fatalities in its cars, with speeding a prominent one.
“Volvo is a leader in safety: we always have been and we always will be,” said Håkan Samuelsson, President and Chief Executive of Volvo Cars. “Because of our research, we know where the problem areas are when it comes to ending serious injuries and fatalities in our cars. And while a speed limitation is not a cure-all, it’s worth doing if we can even save one life.”
Apart from limiting top speeds, the company is also investigating how a combination of smart speed control and geofencing technology could automatically limit speeds around schools and hospitals in future.
“We want to start a conversation about whether car manufacturers have the right or maybe even an obligation to install technology in cars that changes their driver’s behaviour, to tackle things such as speeding, intoxication or distraction,” said Samuelsson. “We don’t have a firm answer to this question but believe we should take leadership in the discussion and be a pioneer.”
According to Volvo Cars, the problem with speeding is that above certain speeds, in-car safety technology and smart infrastructure design are no longer enough to avoid severe injuries and fatalities in the event of an accident. This is why speed limits are in place in most western countries, but speeding remains ubiquitous and one of the most common reasons for fatalities in traffic.
Beyond speeding, two other problem areas constitute ‘gaps toward zero’. Driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs is illegal in large parts of the world, yet it remains a prime reason for injuries and fatalities on today’s roads. The other area is distraction – drivers distracted by their mobile phones or otherwise not fully engaged in driving are another major cause of traffic fatalities.
Volvo Cars says it will present ideas to tackle the problem areas of intoxication and distraction at a special safety event in Gothenburg, Sweden on 20 March.