The E.V.A. Initiative:

Everyone should feel safe in a car

Some people are not as safe on the road as others. That’s why it’s time to share more than 40 years of safety research – to make cars safer for everyone.

Help us make cars safer for everyone

It’s hard to imagine gender makes a difference to a driver’s safety. But the reality is that most automakers still produce cars based exclusively on data from male crash test dummies. As a result, women are more likely to get injured in traffic than men.

But not in a Volvo. Our Accident Research Team has been compiling real-world data since the 1970s to better understand what happens to people during a collision. Women and men appear equally in our data, and we believe they should be equally represented in testing too. 

That’s why we’re launching the E.V.A. Initiative, a downloadable collection of research papers compiling more than 40 years of safety research. We hope that making this information more accessible will encourage other automakers to put people first, and make every car safer for everyone. 



“By collecting real-world data for a long time, it has been possible to identify what injuries arise in different accidents for men, women, and children,”

says Dr. Lotta Jakobsson, senior technical specialist at Volvo Cars Safety Centre.

The result of more than 40 years of research

In 1970, the Volvo Traffic Accident Research Team was formed. Since then, the team has gathered and analysed data from more than 40,000 cars and 70,000 passengers. We’ve used this information to develop many of the innovative systems we have in our cars today. 

The seat that reduces whiplash risk by half

Our research shows that, due to differences in anatomy and body strength, women are are at higher risk of suffering from whiplash than men.

That’s why we designed the Whiplash Protection System, WHIPS. This combines a unique robust head restraint, with a clever seat design to protect a driver’s head and spine. Thanks to this innovation, our test data shows no difference in the risk of whiplash between men and women when driving a Volvo.

An intelligent safety shield

According to the data, women are more likely to suffer a chest injury in a car crash because of differences in chest anatomy and strength. 

We design the structure of our cars, safety belts and side airbags to minimise impact on the occupants – including women and children. A Volvo innovation, SIPS (Side Impact Protection System), relies on an intelligent structure to boost overall safety. SIPS, together with the side-impact airbag, has reduced severe chest injuries by more than 50% for all passengers.

Protecting every head

The shorter a person is, the lower in the car and closer to the steering wheel they sit.  This makes the Inflatable Curtain that covers the full window a vital safety feature. 

In addition to SIPS, the Inflatable Curtain airbag reduces the risk of head injuries by approximately 75%. It inflates in 1/25 second, and prevents a passenger’s head from impacting the objects on the outside of the car and other elements. It was the first airbag system to offer improved protection for both front and rear seat occupants, taking side impact protection one step further.

The most effective lifesaver in traffic

So far, our safety belt has saved over 1 million lives. It protects everyone - regardless of your size, gender, or body shape. However, one group is subject to more unique risks than others: pregnant women.

To better protect mothers and their unborn babies, we developed the world’s first average-sized pregnant crash test dummy. It’s a computer model that makes it possible to study how pregnant women move, how the safety belt and airbag affect the woman and foetus, and many other things. 

“Cars are driven by people. The guiding principle behind everything we make at Volvo therefore is, and must remain, safety.”

Gustaf Larson, co-founder of Volvo
More about Volvo’s safety innovations

How accidents can make cars safer for everyone

We’ve studied more than 40,000 cars in real-life accidents, with 70,000 occupants. This research has contributed to many innovative systems such as WHIPS, SIPS, and numerous child safety products. More than 100 of our research papers are now available for anyone to download. By making this information accessible, we hope automakers will design cars that are safe for everyone - regardless of gender and size.

E.V.A. - Equal Vehicles for All


Frequently asked questions

  • How long has Volvo been testing with female crash test dummies?

    We’ve been testing with a female crash test dummy since 1995, starting with the only available small sized female frontal impact dummy, HIII 5th percentile. 
    In 2001 we included a small sized side-impact dummy, SID2s. 
    We developed a virtual model of a pregnant woman early 2000s - the world-first midsized female crash test dummy. Ten years later, we extended the crash test dummy family with a midsized female crash test dummy for whiplash evaluation in rear end impacts, as the only original car manufacturer in the co-development of EvaRID.


  • How does Volvo Cars develop safe cars based on real world data?

    We’ve been collecting data from our cars Sweden and storing it in the Volvo Cars Statistical Traffic Accident Database since 1970. Our aim is to provide a large body of readily available data on the types of injuries that happen in specific accidents, so we can apply the research findings to design. The good news is that we gathered data in the same way for many years, so we’ve been able to map our progress and improve our success rate over the years. 

  • How many crashes has Volvo Cars collected data from?

    We started out with 28,000 cases. Since 1970, we’ve studied more than 43,000 cars in real-life accidents with 72,000 passengers. We also analyse data from other global databases.

  • What information does the E.V.A. Initiative provide access to?

    The E.V.A. Initiative provides public access to a collection of more than 100 research papers developed by Volvo Cars since the 1950s. 

  • Do I still have to wear a safety belt in a Volvo?

    Yes, the safety belt is still the most effective way to save lives and reduce injuries in car crashes. It’s also mandatory in almost every country around the world. Our safety belts are continually being refined to further improve safety for everyone.

Explore more than 60 years of research

The E.V.A. Initiative

We’ve studied more than 40,000 cars in real-life accidents, with 70,000 occupants since the 1950s. Throughout the years, this has contributed to many innovative systems such as WHIPS, SIPS, and numerous child safety products. We’re sharing our knowledge by letting everyone download more than 60 years of research. We hope this leads to safer cars for everyone - regardless of gender and size. Because at Volvo Cars, we will always put people first.