WILL Volvos have to stay out of the fast lane on Europe’s autoroutes and autobahns from next year?

That could be the case, because the Swedish car maker has revealed it will limit the speed of all its products to 180km/h in its latest move to improve road safety.

Volvo is, of course, known for being a leader in building safer cars, likewise Saab, but the latter has ceased production in the wake of its disastrous takeover by General Motors.

The company said it was a necessary step on the road to achieving its ultimate goal of eliminating road deaths and believes that even if this move saves just one life, it’s still worth doing.

“People simply do not recognise the danger involved in speed,” Volvo safety expert Jan Ivarsson said.

“As humans, we all understand the dangers with snakes, spiders and heights. With speeds, not so much.

“People often drive too fast in a given traffic situation and have poor speed adaptation in relation to that traffic situation and their own capabilities as a driver.

“We need to support better behaviour and help people realise and understand that speeding is dangerous.”

More than limiting top speeds, which will be done electronically, Volvo is also examining “smart speed control” and virtual geofencing technologies that could  automatically limit speeds in the vicinity of schools and hospitals, for instance.

Volvo president Håkan Samuelsson said he wanted to “start a conversation about whether carmakers have the right or maybe even an obligation to install technology in cars that changes their driver’s behaviour, to tackle things like speeding, intoxication or distraction.

“We don’t have a firm answer to this question, but believe we should take leadership in the discussion and be a pioneer.”

But we wonder why 180km/h is the magic number?

Will there be much difference between that and the frequently-achieved 200+ km/h on Europe’s super highways?

Will there be any, or more survivors if a car whacks into a Mack truck, a tree or locomotive at 180, rather than 200km/h?

Well, there might be at least one life saved, the Scandiwegian brain says, so get used to a limit of 180.

However, while it might be seen as a nanny move in Europe, it is viewed as near warp speed by Australian authorities, who have forever peddled their ‘speed kills’ slogan, even though proportionally more people die on our roads at low speeds than high speeds in Europe.

More safety issues will be dealt with in a couple of weeks when Volvo presents its ideas and possible solutions to problem areas at a special safety event.

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Buys

Bill Buys, probably Australia’s longest-serving motoring writer, has been at his craft for more than five decades. Athough motoring has always been in his DNA, he was also night crime reporter, foreign page editor and later chief reporter of the famed Rand Daily Mail. He’s twice been shot at, attacked by a rhinoceros and had several chilling experiences in aircraft. His experience includes stints in traffic law enforcement, motor racing and rallying and writing for a variety of local and international publications. He has covered countless events, ranging from world motor shows and Formula 1 Grands Prix to Targa tarmac and round-the-houses meetings. A motoring tragic, he has owned more than 90 cars. Somewhat of a nostalgic, he has a special interest in classic cars. He is the father of Targa star Robert Buys, who often adds his expertise to Bill’s reviews.