But realising that technology alone will not get it all the way to zero, Volvo Cars is now broadening its scope to include a focus on driver behaviour. Research by the car manufacturer has identified three remaining concerns for safety that constitute so-called gaps in its ambition to completely end serious injuries and fatalities in its cars, with speeding a very prominent one. Håkan Samuelsson, president and chief executive: »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 makers have the right or maybe even an obligation to install technology in cars that changes their driver´s behaviour, to tackle things like speeding, intoxication or distraction«, so Mr. Samuelsson. »We don’t have a firm answer to this question, but believe we should take leadership in the discussion and be a pioneer.«
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. 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.
Two other gaps toward zero
Beyond speeding, two other problem areas constitute ‘gaps toward zero’. As obvious a problem as speeding (and as difficult to end) is intoxication. 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 fatailities. In many ways, they are equally dangerous as drunk drivers.