So apparently Volvo has set itself a target to achieve by the year 2020. Which, by my shaky mathematics is exactly 3149 days from today. The target? That no one dies in one of its cars. Ever again.
The big safety chiefs at Volvo reckon that if they could understand what goes through someone’s mind in the moments leading up to, and during, a big one, then they could turn fatal accidents into non-fatal accidents – and no one need meet their end in a Volvo from that moment onwards.
Which is admirable, of course, and entirely desirable on the one hand, but perhaps a wee bit presumptuous on the other. Because what makes Volvo think that we all behave the same way in an accident?
There’s a bit of footage on YouTube of a crash I was involved in once, with ex-F1 driver Antonio Pizzonia. And you can gauge from the on-board cameras just how differently the two of us react to the exact same set of events.
I’m in the passenger seat and basically just parp myself completely, even being stupid enough to put my hand on the roof as the car rolls over – as if I’m somehow going to repel the forces of nature, Superman stylee, as the Jag somersaults at 90 miles per hour.
Pizzonia, on the other hand, is quite calm to begin with and only gets punchy as he realizes there’s no going back. At which point the nose of the Jag digs in, we roll forwards and to the left, the car slams into a tyre wall upside down, and then returns to terra firma – on its wheels – with an almighty thump.
Afterwards, Pizzonia just sits there looking ever so slightly perplexed – whereas I’m quite keen on the idea of not being in the car for much longer and exit stage left pretty damn quick. Again, though, our behaviour during and our reactions to the crash couldn’t be more different. How on earth is Volvo going to cater for that?
I appreciate that Volvos sell because Volvos are a teeny bit safer than the next car, probably. But they don’t need to come up with hyperbole like this to make their point. Otherwise in 3149 days time they might be made to look gruesomely silly. Which would be a shame, all things considered.