6:00 PM | April 4 2017

The ART of safety

Volvo’s pioneering technologies are not just the work of its clever engineers but also a dedicated Accident Research Team that has visited and investigated tens of thousands of real-life accidents. Together, they have helped to change the way both people and other car makers think about safety.

It’s no accident Volvo continues to quietly yet effectively lead the way in automotive safety.

Our commitment to saving lives and reducing injuries on the road can be traced back to our early days, though pioneering safety systems from the 1970s onwards owe as much to Volvo’s dedicated team of researchers as it does to its clever engineers.

Volvo Cars’ Accident Research Team was established in 1970 after a 1966 survey it conducted proved that invaluable insights could be gained from the effects of crashes on a car and its occupants.

The survey was focused on the effectiveness of the three-point safety belt the company had introduced to the world in 1959. Encompassing every accident involving a Volvo over a one-year period, the results indicated the lap-sash seatbelt had halved the number of injuries.

And for nearly 50 years now, the Accident Research Team has been attending every accident involving a Volvo vehicle within a 100km radius of its home base in Gothenburg, Sweden.

Regardless of the hour of the day, at least one member from Volvo visits a crash site to begin a thorough initial investigation – taking measurements and photographs, and interviewing police, witnesses and, where possible, drivers and passengers involved.

The crashed Volvo is then transported to the company’s Safety Centre for further in-depth analysis, while the team simultaneously seeks additional information relating to occupants and their injuries.

In particularly interesting cases, an accident sequence will be reconstructed in Volvo’s crash-test laboratory.

Having now investigated tens of thousands of accidents, the research team has a basic rule: the more information it is possible to obtain, the better. The objective is to better understand accidents and their consequences so this knowledge can be applied to future product development.

"Looking at real-life accidents – why they happened, and how the cars protected the occupants – gives us the opportunity to study how well our preventive and protective systems function,” said Jan Ivarsson, Volvo’s Senior Technical Advisor Safety. “And they provide us with the basis for the development of future systems.

"During all these years of dedication to safety, we have become expert at translating the team's research work into practical benefits – and at getting people to listen to us. Because without the team's work, we would never succeed in making tomorrow's cars even safer."

Many of the safety technologies implemented in Volvo vehicles over the decades – including the groundbreaking City Safety autonomous emergency braking system – have been developed because of the knowledge gained by the Accident Research Team’s intensive study of real-life collisions.

It is also a pivotal operation as part of Volvo’s vision that, by 2020, no-one should be killed or seriously injured in a new Volvo car.

View the rest of our our April I Roll Stories.

I Roll

Volvo is Latin for 'I roll' and was originally trademarked in 1915 with ball bearing production in mind. But 18 million cars later, Volvo has come to mean much more. 

Volvo started making cars in 1927 because we believed nobody else was making them strong enough or safe enough for Swedish roads. Along the way we’ve come up with dozens of innovations, some of which have changed the world. And it’s this proud history that continues our drive forward to the next great Volvo Cars idea.