These days, seatbelts are seen as a critical part of automobile safety – you probably don’t even think twice before putting one on as soon as you get in the car. But people didn’t always accept seatbelts as such a necessary part of life. In fact, after Volvo first introduced the three-point seatbelt in 1959, people resisted it. Even up until the 1980s, people thought of seatbelts as “ineffective,” “inconvenient,” and “uncomfortable.” Some even cut them out of their cars. But opinions change – especially once people see the effectiveness of seemingly radical inventions. Today, that three-point seatbelt is standard in all automobiles and has saved over 1,000,000 lives.
When it comes to safety, Volvo continues to innovate. Volvo’s new safety features are now going further than protecting people in an accident – they’re helping to prevent them. All new model year 2021 Volvos will now cap at a speed of 112 mph, a decision that Volvo knows may be seen as controversial. But speeding accounts for 26 percent of fatal car accidents. Once cars exceed a certain speed, in-car safety technology and smart infrastructure design no longer suffice to avoid severe injuries and fatalities in the event of an accident.
In addition to the speed cap, these new Volvos will also come with a Care Key, a physical car key onto which owners can set further limitations on the car’s top speed before lending the car to younger or more inexperienced drivers.
Finally, Volvo is working to prevent accidents caused by intoxication and distraction, which account for 29 percent and 8 percent of fatal accidents respectively. Volvo’s driver-monitoring camera will be able to detect if a driver is intoxicated or otherwise distracted and alert them to pay attention to the road or intervene. And with support from Light Detection and Ranging laser technology (LiDAR), the next generation of Volvos will come hardware-ready for autonomous driving. Over time, Volvo plans to push out software updates over the air. Customers who opt-in can then experience fully autonomous highway driving through the Highway Pilot feature, which will be activated once it is verified to be safe for individual geographic locations and conditions.
Even if these new features receive pushback from critics, Volvo feels an obligation to continue its tradition of doing what’s right, rather than just doing what’s popular. By pioneering new innovations in automobile safety, Volvo hopes to get closer to its ambitious goal of reducing the number of people that die or are seriously injured in road traffic accidents to zero. Even if it means losing potential customers, saving lives is worth it.