Volvo has started to introduce a 112mph maximum speed limit on its whole range as new model year updates are introduced. The Swedish carmaker, renowned for its stance on safety, says the initiative is part of its campaign to reduce the number of accidents where speed is a factor.
And while max speeds on Volvo’s current car line range from 118mph to 155mph, Volvo says the initiative isn’t just about establishing a new maximum speed and restricting owners, but helping them to be "the best drivers they can possibly be". Not surprisingly, the company also says the new speed cap is designed to spark discussion.
Every Volvo car will now also come with a Care Key, which allows Volvo drivers to set additional limitations on the car’s top speed — of between 31mph and 112mph — for example before lending their car to other family members or to younger and inexperienced drivers.
Volvo believes the two features illustrate how car makers can take active responsibility for striving to achieve zero traffic fatalities by supporting better driver behaviour.
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Mandatory speed limiters
And Volvo’s speed cap comes ahead of EU plans for mandatory devices in cars to alert drivers when they break the speed limit, by introducing Intelligent Speed Adaptation (ISA) incrementally from 2022.
ISA is a system which informs and warns the driver if they exceed the statutory local speed limit and can limit a car's speed. The in-vehicle speed limit is set automatically as a function of the speed limits indicated on the road. GPS allied to digital speed limit maps allows ISA technology to continuously update the vehicle speed limit to the road speed limit.
Of course, Volvo’s 112mph cap still exceeds the maximum speed regulations in virtually every country. But despite that, the company’s top speed limit has proven to be controversial since it was announced in March 2019. Indeed, some observers continue to question the rights of car makers to impose such limitations through available technology.
Volvo has taken the view that 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.
This 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. Millions of people still get speeding tickets every year.
“We believe a car maker has a responsibility to help improve traffic safety,” Malin Ekholm, head of the Volvo Cars Safety Centre, said. “Our speed limiting technology, and the dialogue that it initiated, fits that thinking. The speed cap and Care Key help people reflect and realise that speeding is dangerous, while also providing extra peace of mind and supporting better driver behaviour.”
Volvo clearly believes it has an obligation to continue its tradition of being a pioneer in the discussion around the rights and obligations of carmakers to take action that can ultimately save lives, even if this means losing potential customers.
Research shows that on average, people have poor understanding of the dangers around speeding. As a result, many people often drive too fast and have poor speed adaption in relation to the traffic situation.And this isn’t the end of Volvo’s safety campaigning. It’s also looking at the issues of driver intoxication and distraction, which it plans to address by installing driver monitoring systems in the near future, as it drives towards a future with zero traffic fatalities and serious injuries.