Volvo limits all new models to 180km/h to help cut road accidents

It’s a well-known fact that excessive highway speeding is one of the biggest causes of preventable accidents on our roads. To try tackle the issue of excessive speed on the open road, Volvo has pushed forward with a blanket 180km/h speed limit on all it’s future models. This forms part of their ‘Vision 2020’, which aims to ensure that no one is killed or seriously injured in a new Volvo from 2020 onwards.

Speeding is a particularly large problem in South Africa, with the World Health Organisation deeming SA to have one of the worst safety records across the world, with over 31 fatalities per 100,000 people at the time of the report at the end of 2018. For reference, the average of the African continent as a whole has a fatality rate of 24 per 100,000 people, and the global average sits at 18 fatalities per 100,000.

Just last year, a driver was clocked doing over 320km/h on a highway in Johannesburg, which is nearly three times the speed limit. Such a speed differential between the speeding driver and regular motorists would have almost certainly had grim consequences.

Volvo has a strong track record of innovations, and the safety of their models has become something of a unique selling point for the brand. The Swedish outlet pioneered systems such as crumple zones, three-point seatbelts and side airbags, with the speed limiter being another addition to the ever-growing list of safety firsts.

Capping the speed limit to 180km/h still allows drivers to break the law and speed, but only to a certain extent. It therefore reduces the speed differential to other motorists, and ultimately the overall risk of a fatal accident.

Additionally, Volvo points out that beyond a speed threshold, certain safety technologies in cars such as accident-avoiding auto braking and lane keeping assistant stop working effectively enough to avoid serious injuries or fatalities. The new speed limit in Volvo models will keep the vehicles at a low enough speed for the systems to still have a strong chance of taking avoiding action or alerting the driver in good time.

Speeding is just one part of the puzzle that makes up the excessively high fatality rate on our roads, however. Volvo recognise two other main causes of accidents; namely intoxication and distraction, and are currently developing systems to help tackle them.

A speed limiter of 180km/h may not seem like a huge breakthrough innovation on the surface level, but if more manufacturers adopt a similar system for their vehicles, as well and introducing further changes to help tackle drink-driving and distracted driving, it could go a very long way towards helping lower the poor safety record on our roads.

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