Volvo Cars has attracted considerable attention with its new safety function in which the car brakes automatically - Volvo City Safety.
"City Safety is of considerable interest to insurance institutes, and insurance companies on many markets are cutting premiums by up to 30 percent for anyone who insures a Volvo XC60," relates Anders Eugensson, safety expert at Volvo Cars Governmental Affairs.
City Safety, which is fitted as standard in the Volvo XC60, is a system whereby at low speeds (0-30 km/h) the car automatically brakes if the driver has been distracted and does not respond to a vehicle in front. The function thus helps cut the number and severity of low-speed rear-end collisions. Such impacts represent a large proportion of the total number of accidents that take place.
Last spring, Anders Eugensson launched a tour to demonstrate the function in a converted Volvo S80.
"We demonstrate City Safety on a track where a large inflatable bag shaped like a car is parked 40 metres away," explains Anders Eugensson. "We accelerate up to 15 km/h and when the collision is imminent, City Safety steps in and brakes the car so the collision can be entirely avoided. At speeds above 15 km/h but below 30 km/h, the car runs into the vehicle in front, but the consequences of the collision are much milder owing to the substantial retardation in speed.
"The car receives its command to brake from a laser sensor that is well-protected behind the windscreen. The command is sent to a processor that determines if the car has to be braked automatically. City Safety is an auxiliary system that never takes over the driver's responsibility," emphasises Anders Eugensson.
Safety institutes and authorities such as Thatcham (Great Britain) and IIHS (Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, the USA), organise seminars for insurance companies the world over. The reason is that City Safety is expected to reduce the number of personal injuries and material damage in conjunction with low-speed impacts. Costs thus also decrease for customers, insurance companies and society in general. What is more, City Safety helps avoid or reduce the risk of whiplash injuries among occupants in the car being hit.
The new XC60 is Volvo's safest car ever and it can be equipped with all the very latest advances in safety-enhancing technology. Owing to the positive effects of City Safety, several insurance companies the world over are cutting premiums by 10 to 30 percent for customers who insure the new cross-over model with them.
Thatcham demonstrated City Safety back in February. It received the "British Fleet World Honours Awards 2008" for its technology, as well as the American "Traffic Safety Achievement Award" at this year's international traffic safety symposium in New York. The longer-term vision of Volvo Cars is to create cars that do not collide, and in the shorter term the aim is that by 2020, nobody should be killed or injured in a Volvo. City Safety, which was developed by Volvo Cars, is an important step towards those visions.
Tour schedule, City Safety 2008:
February: organiser Thatcham, England. April: Saragossa, Spain. Arizona, USA, participants: insurance companies, Transport Canada and NHTSA. May: Nürnburg, Germany. June/July: Paris, France, in Switzerland for insurance company AXA. August: organiser IIHS (Insurance Institute for Highway Safety) for insurance companies, in Virginia, USA.
8 September: in Tylösand, Sweden; joint event with the Swedish Road Administration.
16 September: Paris, participants: RCAR-AGM insurance company, organiser: Thatcham