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Volvo Cars to limit all its cars to 180 km/h (112 mph); geo-fenced limits possible in future; proposals coming on intoxication and distraction

Volvo Cars, as a worldwide leader in safety, will limit the top speed on all its cars to 180 km/h (112 mph) from 2020.

The company’s Vision 2020, which aims for no one to be killed or seriously injured in a new Volvo by 2020, is one of the most ambitious safety visions in the automotive industry. Since technology alone will not get it all the way to zero, Volvo Cars is now broadening its scope to include a focus on driver behavior.

Research by Volvo Cars has identified three remaining concerns for safety that constitute gaps in its ambition to end serious injuries and fatalities in its cars—speeding is a very prominent one.

Volvo is a leader in safety: we always have been and we always will be. 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.

—Håkan Samuelsson, president and chief executive

Apart from limiting top speeds, the company is also investigating how a combination of smart speed control and geo-fencing technology could automatically limit speeds around schools and hospitals in future.

We want to start a conversation about whether car makers have the right or maybe even an obligation to install technology in cars that changes their driver’s behavior, to tackle things like speeding, intoxication or distraction. We don’t have a firm answer to this question, but believe we should take leadership in the discussion and be a pioneer.

—Håkan Samuelsson

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. That is why speed limits are in place in most western countries; yet speeding remains ubiquitous and one of the most common reasons for fatalities in traffic.

Millions of people still get speeding tickets every year and traffic accident data from the National Highway and Traffic Safety Administration shows that 25% of all traffic fatalities in the US in 2017 were caused by speeding.

People simply do not recognize the danger involved in speed, says Jan Ivarsson, one of Volvo Cars’ leading safety experts.

As humans, we all understand the dangers with snakes, spiders and heights. With speeds, not so much. People often drive too fast in a given traffic situation and have poor speed adaption in relation to that traffic situation and their own capabilities as a driver. We need to support better behaviour and help people realize and understand that speeding is dangerous.

—Jan Ivarsson

Besides speeding, the two other major gaps are intoxication and distraction.

  • 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.

  • Drivers distracted by their mobile phones or otherwise not fully engaged in driving are another major cause of traffic fatalities. In many ways, they are equally dangerous as drunk drivers.

Volvo Cars will present ideas to tackle the problem areas of intoxication and distraction at a special safety event in Gothenburg, Sweden on 20 March.

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