AutoWhat are the new challenges in car safety?

What are the new challenges in car safety?


Despite technological innovations, driving injuries continue. For this reason, V olvo has developed the EVA Initiative (Equal Vehicles for All), which is not a technology, but the result of 40 years of research in automobile safety collecting and analyzing data from more than 40,000 vehicles and 70,000 passengers.

Few inventions in human history have saved as many lives as the seat belt: more than 1 million lives. In 1959, Volvo engineer Nils Bohlin introduced the three-point seat belt. Since that revolutionary invention, throughout the 20th century, car safety has become increasingly sophisticated. For example, in the 1990s, safety systems continued to be refined with the introduction of side impact protection or whiplash protection systems. Already in the early 2000s, the innovations of Volvo Cars positioned it as the car safety brand par excellence, with the introduction of the Roll-Over Protection System (ROPS), the side roof airbag, or the pedestrian airbag with full automatic braking. .

Now, Volvo Cars makes more than a hundred investigations available to everyone, car manufacturers, drivers and passengers , with the aim of obtaining safer vehicles for everyone.

The conclusion is very simple, but enlightening, and opens a new paradigm for the automotive industry: women, children, the elderly … and many men do not follow a complexion pattern similar to that of the mannequins used for vehicle safety tests .

Are we misrepresenting vehicle safety? Are our cars really prepared to adapt and protect any type of body?


Volvo Cars’ track record in in-car safety and comfort has allowed it to be at the forefront of driving needs. But now is the time to go a step further and use the data obtained from EVA to lead the changes that will allow the industry to obtain safer and more adaptable cars for the diversity of drivers and passengers.

Shock dummies

Over the years, changes are made to the design of crash dummies, or dummys, to optimize injury prevention. In one of the EVA papers published in December 2018, the researchers tested three mannequins; Original Q10, Q10update and Q10light, in frontal crash tests on a midsize SUV, with two different crash pulses (different speeds and crash intensities).

The findings revealed that the mannequin that best responded to these tests was the model that was most sensitive to changes in seat belt geometry: the Q10light, with improved kinematics.

Developing new models of mannequins that represent all kinds of diversities of physical complexion, in order to optimize vehicle safety, is one of the great challenges of this decade in terms of safety.

The diversity of passengers

In relation to the previous point, the diversity of drivers and passengers should be reflected in the design of the safety of a vehicle , according to Volvo Cars.

For example, the company has developed the world’s first pregnant mannequin for its crash tests, which allows them, among other things, to observe how the passenger moves and how the seat belt affects both the mother and the fetus.

Child safety

Of Volvo Cars’ 100 research papers, many of them are dedicated exclusively to improving child safety. Every year about 400,000 people under the age of 25 are fatally injured on roads around the world, and there are more than 1,000 deaths per day.

Injuries from traffic accidents are the second leading cause of death in children under 5 years of age, and 14-year-olds account for almost a quarter of all injury deaths: 65% are from vehicle occupants.

The distractions

EVA’s extensive research includes an important section on distractions behind the wheel. Transportation analysis of various crash databases suggests that approximately 18-22% of crashes are associated with what we define as distracting activities : 34% of total driving time is dedicated to secondary tasks, being maintaining a conversation with another passenger the most frequent of them (15%), followed by getting ready or getting ready (6.5%), using a mobile phone manually (5.3%), and eating or drinking (1.9%), such as is taken from a study by Volvo Cars published in 2011.

Large animal detection

A 2015 study also made available by Volvo Cars identifies several factors to consider when colliding with a large animal: impact speed, impact configuration, environmental factors and driver awareness.

Future safety development challenges also include detecting large animals , to avoid these types of accidents.


Innovations that minimize injuries



It is one of the most frequent injuries. The ergonomics of most vehicle backrests and headrests is designed with mannequins that represent a specific physiognomy, of an adult man, which may present deficiencies in the protection of people whose complexion is different .

One solution to this problem is the Whiplash Protection System (WHIPS) which combines a solid headrest with a cleverly designed seat to protect both the head and spine.


Side impacts

The structure, seat belts and side airbags of vehicles are frequently optimized to minimize impacts on their occupants.

VAS studies conclude that women are more likely than men to sustain chest injuries due to differences in chest anatomy and strength.

To minimize this risk, Volvo has developed the Side Impact Protection System (SIPS) which, together with the side airbag, reduces serious chest injuries for all passengers by more than 50%.


Head injuries

One of the basic rules in driving safety is to place the seat when the lower the better, since, in an accident, there is a risk of hitting the head with the roof of the vehicle and the sides.

Side roof airbags reduce the risk of head injury by approximately 75%. They inflate in 1/25 of a second and prevent the head from hitting against objects outside the vehicle and other elements.


Volvo has made public the compendium of 40 years of research, thus demonstrating that its trajectory endorses it as a leader and prescriber in automotive safety.

The EVA Initiative studies are available to the entire industry, with the aim of making cars that are safer and adaptable to the diversity of their occupants.



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