I remember watching this car advert from the ‘90s on TV. In it, a chap seated inside a sedan calmly explains the car’s safety features as another vehicle slams into it. This man then duly walks away from the wreck, apparently unscathed. This was a commercial from Volvo. Yes, the Swedish carmaker that made boxy (back in the day) but crazy safe cars.
Volvo just celebrated the 50th anniversary of its in-house Accident Research Team – responsible for the development the company’s super-safe cars. Operating since 1970, this group goes around investigating every crash involving Volvo vehicles. It collects information about the accident, uses publicly accessible reports from authorities, talks to survivors, analyzes the medical records of the occupants, and examines the crashed car whenever the situation permits. Data gathered from these investigations are analyzed by biomechanics experts, physicists, and engineers to better understand the causes of the accident and develop new technologies to keep those from happening again.
These exhaustive efforts lead to the design and development of new cars that not only protect occupants during accidents, but also help prevent mishaps from ever reoccurring. According to Volvo Cars Safety Centre head Malin Ekholm, “The Accident Research Team is far from the only source of research data for our safety experts, but it plays an important role for us to really understand the details.” She adds: “Accidents do still happen, but nowadays the consequences are much milder and serious injuries are much rarer than they used to be.”
Well, times have changed. Volvos may now look at lot sexier and more desirable, but one thing remains — the brand’s focus on vehicle safety which is its unique selling proposition. Over the years, other carmakers took inspiration from these technologies, making their cars just a little bit more secure. So, whenever you have a close call, you have these guys to thank for saving your sorry ass.