Volvo capping speed on its vehicles in bid to reduce traffic deaths to zero

Swedish car-maker Volvo said on Monday that it will introduce a 180kph (112mph) speed limiter on all new vehicles as it seeks to enhance safety credentials.

The move is part of Volvo’s Vision 2020 initiative to eliminate passenger fatalities and serious injuries by next year. However, the company is unlikely to meet the goal without additional measures to address driver behavior, according to its Chief Executive Hakan Samuelsson.

“We’ve realized that to close the gap we have to focus more on the human factors,” he told Reuters.

Volvo buyers often choose the brand for its safety, the top speed for its cars is currently 130mph.

According to the company, its passenger fatalities were already well below the industry average before the goal was announced in 2007.

Samuelsson said that in addition to the speed cap, it is planned to deploy technology using cameras that monitor the driver’s state and attentiveness. That will prevent people from driving while distracted or intoxicated, which are the two other big factors in accidents.

Volvo, which is owned by China’s Geely, is also looking at ways to use software and geo-fencing technology to limit the speed of its cars when they drive by schools and hospitals.

The speed cap could be a turn-off for some markets such as Germany, where drivers routinely travel at 200kph or more on unrestricted autobahns, the CEO noted.

“We cannot please everybody, but we think we will attract new customers,” he said, recalling that the rollout of three-point seat belts pioneered by Volvo in 1959 had initially been criticized by some as intrusive.

“I think Volvo customers in Germany will appreciate that we’re doing something about safety,” said Samuelsson.

According to National Safety Council estimates, 40,000 people were killed in traffic accidents in the US last year.

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