Volvo, you might have read, is going to limit the top speed of all the cars it sells from 2021 onwards to 112mph (180km/h).

On the face of it this appears to be little more than a PR stunt to garner goodwill and head-nodding approval from legislators and the public at large. The company says it has made the move as part of its goal that no one should be killed or injured in a Volvo by 2020.

But how many road accidents actually happen at or above 112mph? Gary Baldwin, a forensic collision investigator with the Thames Valley Police, reckons the self-imposed top speed limit’s impact on road deaths will be negligible. “It’s an irrelevance,” he said. “I genuinely think it will have no effect whatsoever.”

There might be more to this than meets the eye, however. Last May the European Commission published a list of 12 new safety features it – or rather the European Transport Safety Council (ETSC), the EU’s go-to advisory body on road safety – wants mandated on new cars from 2021, including among them Intelligent speed assistance (ISA). 

These things take time to implement, though, and it was only towards the end of last month that a committee of MEPs voted to approve that list – and there’s still more legislative wrangling to go before it’s all finalised.