Volvo, a name that is synonymous with safety, gave the world the first three-point safety belt in 1959, through the invention of Nils Bohlin – a Volvo Engineer. Noting the significance of this breakthrough in car safety and in a conscious decision to put people’s lives first, Volvo immediately made Bohlin’s patent available to all car makers.
However, Bohlin’s design was largely rejected by the industry and public for many years despite the experiments and data supporting its efficacy. After years of persistent advocacy and leadership by Volvo, the public finally took to seat belt. This life-saving invention would eventually lead to the introduction of Malaysia’s seatbelt legislation in 1979.
According to the feedback recorded by Volvo, the public dubbed the safety belt law to be “terrible idea” and was also called “a violation of humans rights” by The New York Times in 1973.
Today, almost every car in the market has a safety belt and it has been estimated to save more than a million lives. Since the invention of the world’s first three-point safety belt, Volvo Cars has continued to introduce many more ‘world’s first’ innovations and technology, all in the name of safety.
At the turn of a new decade this year, Volvo Cars introduces another “terrible idea” to send a strong signal about the dangers of speeding. From 2020, all new Volvo cars will have a speed cap of 180kph. Since its global announcement in March 2020, Volvo Cars has started a conversation about whether car makers have the right or even an obligation to install technology in cars that changes a driver’s behaviour.
The Global Status Report on Road Safety 2018 published by the World Health Organization (WHO) revealed that Malaysia has the third highest fatality rate from road traffic accidents in Asia and ASEAN, behind Thailand and Vietnam. In 2016, there were 7,152 deaths from these accidents in Malaysia, in which 87% were males and 13% females.
“The reactions to the 180kph speed cap is similar, if not nearly identical, to the comments from the general public in 1973. We know that our decision to introduce a speed cap would cause a stir amongst the public, but sometimes all it takes is that one person to come out and make a stance to change the world. For us, controversial or not, it is making the hard and uncomfortable decision to save a million more lives all the more worth it.” – Nalin Jain, Managing Director of Volvo Car Malaysia
“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 adaption in relation to that traffic situation and their own capabilities as a driver. We need to support better behaviour and help people.” – Jan Ivarsson, Senior Technical Advisor of Safety at Volvo Cars
The campaign – titled ‘A Million More’ – highlights car safety through the years and the courage to make bold and controversial decisions in order to save more lives.