Volvo announced in 2014 its vision for zero fatalities or serious injuries in its vehicles by 2020, but these have continued to occur – and the company has blamed impaired drivers.
The company’s next step in its vision, in addition to building on structural vehicle safety, is to combat intoxicated drivers by utilising an in-car camera that’s able to use AI to determine whether a driver is distracted or under the influence.
Using this data, the vehicle can then prevent the driver from controlling the vehicle, for both their safety and the safety of other road users.
Volvo’s research shows that crashes tend to happen in ways that make occupant protection an iterative and logical process.
Throw intoxication into the mix and not only do crashes tend to happen in ways they wouldn’t with a sober driver, but the risk to other drivers dramatically increases due to a lack of logical reaction to incidents that lead to accidents.
“The big part now that we see the bigger gaps that we have as intoxication distraction, and speeding,” said Thomas Broberg, senior technical advisor at the Volvo Cars Safety Centre.
“Usually if you look at fatalities in most statistical databases around the world, if you look at the government agenda, in most countries, it’s intoxication, driving under the influence and speeding at the same time and wearing your safety belt.
“And unfortunately, it’s not only that you may hurt yourself, but usually also include someone else who is sort of innocent in that perspective.
“And then, of course, we have a joint responsibility with authorities, because these are violators of the traffic systems. But at the same time, we need to see what we can do in order to try to… because it’s such a big gap.
“I think it’s [also] to understand the diversity of us as drivers. We all have different skills. We have different experience. I mean, you have everything from novice drivers on the one hand, to elderly drivers, on the other hand, with a lot of experience, but maybe starting to lack some of the capabilities such as eyesight being one, but also reaction time and others and that’s actually my my field of research that have been conducted.”
It’s safe to say that Volvo has its work cut out for it, though it isn’t an issue that’s exclusive to the brand.
Mr Broberg told CarExpert that while Volvo missed that target, zero fatalities and serious injuries is an ethos the brand lives by and stands by.
“We don’t regret it at all. I mean, it’s totally in line with our philosophy and our our heritage, I would say we set people first. And to me, you can’t have a different mindset,” he said.
“I think that’s good in order to raise awareness, but more importantly, for us working within the company, it’s essential in the sense that means that we need to lift every stone to understand what we need to do and everyone is in line with that.
“We’re not going to have any time arguing what it is and what it is not. I don’t think that we would be where we are today if we haven’t had that mindset.”