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Volvo Is Sharing 50 Years of Accident and Safety Analysis with Other Automakers—and You

Car and Driver logo Car and Driver 21/03/2019 Daniel Golson
a man standing in front of a car: Since 1970, Volvo has dispatched research teams to investigate and analyze accidents, and now it is making its knowledge open to all, including other automakers. © Volvo Since 1970, Volvo has dispatched research teams to investigate and analyze accidents, and now it is making its knowledge open to all, including other automakers.

At the same conference in Gothenburg, Sweden, where Volvo announced it will be putting in-car cameras in all of its new models, the safety-oriented brand also announced that it will be sharing the knowledge gained from all of its accumulated crash data with the rest of the industry-just as it shared the three-point safety belt when Volvo invented it (and was the first to make it standard equipment) in 1959.

Volvo says that "prioritizing societal progress" is what drives its safety development, and that the research they have gained shows exactly what can be improved.

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Called the E.V.A. Initiative, which stands for Equal Vehicles for All, the new project is the culmination of nearly 50 years of work. Volvo started examining crashes in 1966 to see if seatbelts actually made a difference in terms of injuries. 

Surprise, surprise: they did. Then, in 1970, Volvo formed the Accident Research Team (ART) in Sweden, which fully investigates crashes that occur involving Volvo vehicles.

First, a team is dispatched to the site of the accident at any time of day or night if it's within 60 miles of Volvo's headquarters in Gothenburg. Volvo's team fully documents the crash site and the vehicles involved and interviews potential witnesses; then the cars are moved to Volvo's Safety Center to be looked at further.

Volvo also follows up with the people involved in the accidents, collecting medical records and injury reports. In this way, Volvo has analyzed 43,000 crashes that involved 72,000 total occupants. 

Gallery: Volvo will use in-car cameras to detect drunk, distracted driving (motor1.com)

For crashes that aren't close to Volvo's home, the team investigates after the fact, deciding on which crashes to look at based on provided information, insurance claims, and surveys sent to the people involved in the accident.

Volvo also has incorporated data and research from other global sources. All of the gathered information is used to figure out why car accidents and related injuries happen the way they do, which is then applied to the design and engineering of future products.

For example, knowledge gained from ART has directly led to the development of safety systems, most notably the WHIPS whiplash protection system that was introduced in 1998.

Volvo XC90 SUV © Getty Volvo XC90 SUV A more recent example is an energy absorber in the seats of SPA-platform-based Volvos like the XC90; it was developed after Volvo saw an issue with lower-back injuries, which led to research into accidents in which cars ran off the road.

One of the biggest reasons for introducing Project E.V.A., according to Lotta Jakobsson, biomechanical engineer and a senior technical specialist at Volvo's Safety Center, is because Volvo actually has information about all kinds of people from real-world situations-not just data gained from using the traditional average male crash-test dummy.

For instance, Volvo has been a pioneer in recognizing that women are at a higher risk of injuries than men, whiplash chief among them, and introducing solutions.

Volvo logo on a wheel © AP Volvo logo on a wheel A variety of occupant shapes and heights-including children and pregnant women-are also part of Volvo's research. 

Volvo won't actually be sharing the data that it has collected over the years-no one else would know what to do with it, the company says. Instead, it is releasing more than 100 research papers in an online database, and anyone can access them, not just other car companies. 

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