When I read about this week’s topic, safety engineering, one of the first things I thought about was Volvo. I have always known it as one of the safest car brands that are on the market, so actually it fits perfectly into the safety engineering topic. Do keep in mind, however, that I am not completely unbiased in my opinion, since I have been a regular passenger in Volvo cars for many years now. Also, according to their site, Volvo was chose the safest car manufacturer by at least 70% of independent testers, this number being as high as 95% in the past four years. For these reasons, I decided to research what makes Volvo such a safe car brand.
A good way to start this research is by quoting the founder of Volvo, Assar Gabrielsson. He said: “The guiding principle behind everything we make at Volvo is, and must remain, safety.” This points out the main reason why Volvo has such a focus on engineering for safety; it has been the guiding principle behind all they do since they originally started making cars. This has led to some interesting products and services created by Volvo during the last century.
Firstly, and perhaps most importantly, Volvo is the original inventor of the three way seatbelt. This might not sound familiar, but it is actually the type of seatbelt most people have been using for their whole lives. Prior to this, a two way seatbelt system was used that was very uncomfortable and was not actually that efficient in preventing injury. With the three way system, which is said to have saved over a million lives since it was implemented, Volvo has reduced injury rates by 90%. Since the seatbelt is the most effective way of preventing injury at low and high speed impacts, it’s surprising that this invention has helped Volvo to be safer than its competitors. Volvo was also the first car manufacturer to implement side- and curtain airbags and baby seats into their commercial cars, way to go!
However, this turns out not to be all Volvo does to ensure safety in and around their vehicles. In consumer cars, most accidents happen by fault of the driver, and the severity can be directly linked to the performance of the car in terms of safety. This is not the case in construction sites. Because Volvo also holds a big market share in construction vehicles, they take safety in construction sites to heart as much as safety in consumer cars. This is why they have established a Security Council. This council takes care of raising awareness of safety in and around construction vehicles provided by Volvo. They raise awareness for use of safety gear, proper utilization of construction vehicles, and also appropriate design of construction sites. This all to reduce the amount of accidents happening in construction sites, which run up into the thousands every year.
So even when Volvo has been the safest car manufacturer around for many years, they still try to bring down the amount of injuries in and around their cars. By building their company around a core value of safety, and innovating around this value, they managed to not only make their own brand the safest, but to invent many features that help make other cars safer as well. This is truly a legacy to be proud of!