Volvo, which invented the three-point seat belt, is adding another safety feature to its vehicles. Last week, the Swedish automaker announced that it would limit the top speed of all its vehicles to 112 miles per hour. The company hopes to send "a strong signal about the dangers of speeding," according to an official statement.
Volvo will install the speed-limit in 2020, on all 2021 model year cars, though police vehicles will be exempt. "While a speed limitation is not a cure-all, it's worth doing if we can even save one life," Volvo Car Group president Håkan Samuelsson said.
The company has yet to confirm if the 112-mph speed limit will apply to only Volvos, or if Polestar vehicles will also introduce the change. In addition, it is unclear if the new speed limitation will affect only North America or other global markets, such as Germany, known for its unrestricted speed limit sections of Autobahn.
This initiative is part of the Volvo's "Vision 2020" safety program, which "aims for no one to be killed or seriously injured in a new Volvo by 2020." The Swedish automaker says that speeding has been identified as one of the most destructive driver behaviors that it plans to reduce.
A new report by the Governors Highway Safety Association revealed that approximately 6,227 pedestrians were killed in motor vehicle crashes in 2018 — a 4 percent increase over 2017 and the highest mortality rate since 1990.
"We want to start a conversation about whether carmakers have the right or maybe even an obligation to install technology in cars that changes their driver's behavior," Samuelsson said.
Volvo is also looking into implementing "smart speed control" and geofencing technologies that would automatically inhibit a car's speed in densely populated areas or near locations like schools and hospitals. The company says that over certain speeds, in-car safety technology is insufficient to avoid severe injuries or fatalities in the event of a crash. The company says that 25 percent of all traffic fatalities in the US in 2017 were a result of speeding, according to National Highway Traffic Safety Administration data.
In the US, the 112-mph limit won’t affect most drivers since the highest speed limit in the country is 85 mph in Texas. In the European Union, the general speed limit for highways is 75 to 80 mph. Although Germany does not have a cap for highways, it recommends a speed of up to 80mph. Aside from speeding, Volvo would like to address driver distraction and intoxication in order to make roads safer.