Apart from speeding, which the company aims to help combat with a top speed limit, intoxication and distraction are two other primary areas of concern for traffic safety. Together, these three areas constitute the main ‘gaps’ towards Volvo Cars’ vision of a future with zero traffic fatalities and require a focus on human behaviour in the company’s safety work as well.
For example, figures by NHTSA show that in the United States, almost 30 per cent of all traffic fatalities in vehicles in 2017 involved intoxicated drivers.
Volvo Cars believes intoxication and distraction should be addressed by installing in-car cameras and other sensors that monitor the driver and allow the car to intervene if a clearly intoxicated or distracted driver does not respond to warning signals and is risking an accident involving serious injury or death.
That intervention could involve limiting the car’s speed, alerting the Volvo on Call assistance service and, as a final course of action, actively slowing down and safely parking the car.
Examples of such behavior include a complete lack of steering input for extended periods of time, drivers who are detected to have their eyes closed or off the road for extended periods of time, as well as extreme weaving across lanes or excessively slow reaction times.
A driver monitoring system as described above is an important element of allowing the car to actively make decisions in order to help avoid accidents that could result in severe injuries or death.
Introduction of the cameras on all Volvo models will start on the next generation of Volvo’s scalable SPA2 vehicle platform in the early 2020s. Details on the exact amount of cameras and their positioning in the interior will follow at a later stage.
The company is limiting the top speed on all its cars to 180 kph from model year 2021, in order to send a strong signal about the dangers of speeding.
Volvo Cars t also revealed the Care Key, which allows Volvo drivers to impose limitations on the car’s top speed on all cars from model year 2021, before lending their car to others.
The Care Key, the monitoring cameras, the speed limit as well existing driver assistance systems all serve one single aim: to support safer driving.
The Care Key allows Volvo drivers to set limitations on the car’s top speed, before lending their car to other family members or to younger and inexperienced drivers such as teenagers that only just received their drivers’ license.
The speed limit and the Care Key are both part of that initiative and illustrate how car makers can take active responsibility for striving to achieve zero traffic fatalities by supporting better driver behaviour.
Beyond the potential safety benefits, features like a speed limit and the Care Key are also likely to offer Volvo drivers a financial benefit. The company is currently inviting insurance companies in several markets to conversations to offer special, favorable insurance to the Volvo community using these safety features.
Specific deals and terms will depend on local market circumstances, but Volvo Cars expects to announce the first of several agreements with national insurance firms soon.
Volvo Safety Data
Volvo Cars is for the first time making its safety knowledge easily accessible in a central digital library which it urges the car industry to use, in the interest of safer roads for all.
Project E.V.A. illustrates, based on Volvo Cars’ own research data as well as several other studies, that women are more at risk for some injuries in a car crash. Differences in for example anatomy and neck strength between the average man and woman mean that women are more likely to suffer from whiplash injuries.
Based on those studies and its own crash data, Volvo Cars created virtual crash test dummies to better understand these accidents and develop safety technologies that helps to protect both men and women in an equal way. The first resulting technology was WHIPS whiplash protection introduced in 1998 that has contributed to the unique look of Volvo’s seats and head restraints.
More recently, Volvo Cars’s research data showed an issue with lumbar spine, or lower back, injuries across all people, regardless of gender and size. Further analysis and study made Volvo focus on the dangers of run-off road injuries. The resulting technology, introduced first on the XC90 and now on all SPA-based cars, is an energy absorber in the seats that goes far beyond what is a regulatory requirement for car makers.