In an announcement earlier today the Chinese-owned Swedish firm stated that it will set a self-imposed 180 km/h speed limit on all Volvo cars sold from the year 2020.

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Safety first

Volvo is well known for its stance on safety. In keeping with that reputation, it launched Vision 2020, which aims for no one to be killed or seriously injured in a new Volvo by 2020. Volvo realises that technology alone will not achieve this lofty ambition, so it has broadened its scope to include a focus on driver behaviour. Data from the National Highway and Traffic Safety Administration shows that 25 per cent of all traffic fatalities in the US in 2017 were caused by speeding.

Limiting vehicle top speeds is just one of the strategies at play. Volvo is also investigating a combination of smart speed control and geo-fencing technology, which could automatically limit speeds around schools and hospitals in future.

Other key areas

Two other key areas will also be addressed by Volvo are intoxication and distraction. 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 as dangerous as drunk drivers.

In their own words

“Volvo is a leader in safety: we always have been and we always will be,” said Håkan Samuelsson, president and chief executive of Volvo Cars. “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.”

“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 such as speeding, intoxication or distraction,” said 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.”

People simply do not recognise 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,” said Mr Ivarsson. “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 realise and understand that speeding is dangerous.”