Volvo XC90 (Photo: Public Domain)

Can you imagine a car company that pledges by 2020, no one will be killed or seriously injured in one of their cars? Volvo has made such a claim.

I was skeptical until I read data from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, which lists nine vehicle models (including the Volvo XC90) where no one in the United States has died in at least four years.

Volvo, remains based in Sweden. But it is now owned by China’s Zhejiang Geely Holding Group. The automaker actually tracks how many people die in its vehicles in order to monitor safety. Engineers argue that this methodology helps them determine how much safer their vehicles become each time they roll out new crash-prevention technology.

Features that are said to make the crash proof claim a reality include the following:

Adaptive Cruise Control: This feature uses radar and sensors to detect vehicles on the road ahead. A maximum speed is set and then the car maintains a safe following distance on its own, operating the gas and the brakes for the driver.

Auto Lane Keeping Assist: This feature uses cameras to keep a car in its lane. Strange but true.

Collision Avoidance: Radar, cameras or other sensors detect obstacles ahead and warn the driver. If the driver fails to react, the car can apply the brakes automatically to at least reduce the impact of a crash. This is slightly reminiscent of taking driving lessons with a teacher seated to your right who has a dedicated brake pedal.

Pedestrian Detection: Cameras will detect human forms that might wander into the path of the car, even at night — dogs, cats and coyotes come to mind. Drivers can be alerted and again, the car is programmed to brake automatically.

Large Animal Detection: Volvo engineers have created a system that can detect when a large animal, such as a Deer walks in front of your car, saving both driver and animal.

As a lover of automobiles since age 6, I can tell you that these developments are interesting. However, I will never accept a car that drives itself. As Jack Nicholson said in a famous movie, “Sit back and leave the driving to me.”


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