Volvo to cut speed
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Volvo will become the first major vehicle manufacturer to impose a speed limit on all of its new cars, from next year.
The vehicles will be built with a maximum speed of 180km/h as part of a worldwide road safety initiative.
General manager of Volvo New Zealand, Coby Duggan, said the initiative would help raise awareness about the link between speed and the road toll.
Ministry of Transport statistics suggest excessive speed is a factor in 28 per cent of fatal crashes in New Zealand.
“The long-standing default maximum speed limit on the open road in New Zealand is 100km/h, with an increased limit of
110km/h now in place on selected motorways and expressways,” Duggan said.
“Sadly, despite the extensive efforts of regulators, posted limits do not prevent reckless driving at speeds far in excess of these.”
If the move helped raise local awareness of the devastating effect speeding had on hundreds of families each year, it would be an important step towards safer journeys for road users.
Volvo aimed to have no one killed or seriously injured in a new Volvo by 2020, which he said was one of the most ambitious safety visions in the automotive industry. But realising that technology alone would not achieve this; Volvo was broadening its scope to include a focus on driver behaviour.
Research by Volvo had identified three remaining concerns for safety that constituted so-called “gaps” in its ambition to end serious injuries and fatalities in its cars, with speeding a prominent one.
Volvo’s new direction would encourage other car makers to review their policies and could result in wide industry change.
“Volvo is a leader in safety: we always have been and we always will be,” said Hakan 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 was also investigating how a combination of smart speed control and geofencing technology could automatically limit speeds around schools and hospitals.
“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 drivers’ behaviour, to tackle things like speeding, intoxication or distraction,” said Samuelsson.
The problem with speeding was that above certain speeds, in-car safety technology and smart infrastructure design were no longer enough to avoid severe injuries and fatalities in an accident. That was why speed limits were in place in most western countries, yet speeding remained one of the most common reasons for traffic fatalities.
Millions of people still received speeding tickets every year and traffic accident data from the National Highway and Traffic Safety Administration shows that 25 per cent of all US traffic fatalities in 2017 were caused by speeding.
One of Volvo’s safety experts, Jan Ivarsson, said people did not not recognise the danger involved in speed. “As humans, we all understand the dangers with snakes, spiders and heights. With speeds, not so much.”
Two other problem areas constituted “gaps toward zero”. Driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs was illegal in large parts of the world, yet it remained a prime reason for injuries and fatalities. The other area was distraction by mobile phones or other factors.
Volvo will present ideas to tackle the issues of intoxication and distraction at a safety event in Sweden later this month.