“Through the hard work and research of the accident research team, Volvo Cars can ensure that a tragic traffic accident can lead to something good: increasingly safer cars,” he says Malin Ekholm, Head of the Volvo Cars Safety Center. “By carefully analyzing the events in each phase of the accident, the team provides important information about what can be improved on our cars.”

The team has been in operation since 1970. Whenever there is an accident with a Volvo Gothenburg, SwedenDay or night, they quickly come to the scene when notified. Upon arrival, they start an investigation and document the course of events in as much detail as possible.

That means asking questions. How strong was the impact? How quickly did the active safety systems intervene? How are the passengers? Further questions are: How was the weather? What time was it In what condition were the road markings?

The work in the office continues: the team requests publicly available police reports, contacts the driver and examines the car if possible. The team also tries to understand how the driver experienced the accident, a process in which the behavioral researchers at the Volvo Cars Safety Center are involved.

Finally, the team will ask those involved in the accident to provide their medical records so that they can take note of the injuries sustained. These are analyzed by biomechanics experts in collaboration with physicists in order to understand the exact causes of the injury.

All collected data and knowledge are coded and depersonalized. The conclusions from this research will be shared with Volvo’s product development teams, who will use it to develop and implement new technologies in upcoming cars. The team also identifies things that cannot be resolved today – this is how Volvo Cars can stay at the forefront of safety development.

Each year the team personally investigates around 30 to 50 accidents, but accidents happen all over the world and the scene can be difficult to get to on time. In these cases and as much as possible, the detectives work with the support of Volvo employees and emergency services, which are closer to the location, to record accidents.

In addition, the team also uses other sources of information such as public accident databases that are available worldwide to ensure that the necessary steps are taken.

“The accident research team is far from the only source of research data for our safety experts, but it does play an important role for us to really understand the details,” he adds Malin Ekholm. “Accidents still happen, but these days the consequences are much milder and serious injuries are much less common than they used to be.”

Media work by Volvo Cars
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