What does your job as Safety Manager at Volvo Buses entail?
“My assignments include everything from setting a vision and strategy for our work with safety, to understanding upcoming legal demands and trends. I’m also Volvo Buses’ contact person for external questions on traffic safety.
"Traffic safety has a strong connection to the UN’s global goals for sustainable development and working towards sustainable transport system is a natural and important part of the Volvo Group’s strategy and vision. We have a major focus on these issues, and our vision of Zero Accidents feels more relevant than ever. As Safety Manager for Volvo Buses, to be involved in driving these efforts feels fantastic. In addition to our wide range of safety solutions and the fact that buses are the safest mode of road transport, the bus as a product is also a strong contributing factor towards sustainable cities and improving public health."
From a global perspective, what are the biggest challenges when it comes to traffic safety?
“On a global level, the price of road-based mobility is still very high. Statistics from the WHO show that around 1.35 million people die in traffic accidents every year. Low- and middle-income countries are overrepresented in the statistics and account for more than 90 per cent of fatalities. One reason for this is that the transportation systems in such countries are often congested. In many places, rapid urbanisation has taken place while the expansion of public infrastructure has lagged due to a lack of resources.
“Another challenge, in all countries, is protecting vulnerable road users, for example, pedestrians, cyclists and powered two-wheelers. In total, they account for half of all traffic accident fatalities, and many of them are children and youths.”
There will be new legal requirements in the EU in the coming years that will apply to heavy vehicles and vulnerable road users. What will the requirements mean, and what are they intended for?
“In the last 20 years, Europe has seen great success within traffic safety. Despite traffic volumes increasing, the number of fatalities has more than halved. In line with the UN’s global targets, the ambition is to minimise the number of serious accidents by a further 50 per cent by 2030. Therefore, the European Commission has, together with numerous authorities, vehicle manufacturers and other organisations, developed a package of legal requirements as an update of the General Safety Regulation (GSR).
“The legal requirements will be introduced in three steps with a strong focus on helping drivers in different types of situations to prevent accidents, for example, with unprotected road users. The first step will take effect in 2024 and includes increasing traffic safety in urban environments by helping bus drivers be aware of their vehicle’s immediate surroundings by using sensors. This step also includes requirements for systems for increased speed compliance and driver distraction warning. Since many accidents are connected to distraction, there will be requirements for additional levels of distraction warning in step 2, in 2026.
“Step 3, in 2029, will include legal requirements for Event Data Recorders, a function that makes it easier to analyse the course of events leading to an accident and help improve traffic safety.
“The new legal requirements apply to all vehicle classes, including both long-distance buses and city buses."
We are continuously working with improving our products and often offer safety solutions long before they are legally required.
What will Volvo Buses do to meet the new legal requirements?
“We are continuously working with improving our products and often offer safety solutions long before they are legally required. This is also the case here. Already today, Volvo Buses has systems that help drivers detect unprotected road users. Another example is our safety system Driver Alert Support (DAS), which helps drivers concentrate on the road.
“Different parts of the world have made varying degrees of progress when it comes to traffic safety. For us, it is therefore very important that the innovative safety solutions we develop can be used broadly, and not just in individual markets.”
What new safety solutions can we expect to see in the future?
“A lot will happen in the field of safety in the future, especially around driver support. We will also see increased integration of safety systems, such as further improved driver interface, which is important from a driver's perspective.
“Safety solutions that are based on connectivity is something we are going to see more of in the coming years. This opens up for new technologies that improve preventative safety even more. For example, Volvo Buses offers Safety Zones, a connected solution based on geofencing technology that limits bus speeds in high-risk areas like schools, malls and bus terminals.
What are the advantages of being part of the Volvo Group when it comes to safety?
“The Volvo Group invests a lot in new technology, and we develop common platform solutions. This means we can add new safety solutions and functions to our products quickly.
“Another strength is the extensive knowledge and information sharing within the Volvo Group regarding safety. This ranges from dedicated research into accidents, to broad representation in various external networks and groups, for example, in the European Commission.”
Our safety vision is based on a holistic understanding of the role traffic safety plays in a larger social perspective.
The Volvo Group’s vision is Zero Accidents with Volvo Products. Is this possible?
“Our vision for Zero Accidents is primarily a mindset and a statement on our long-term goals. In addition to setting the direction for our safety efforts, ‘Zero’ reflects the fact that all accidents can be prevented.
“Our safety vision is based on a holistic understanding of the role traffic safety plays in a larger social perspective. It is not something that Volvo Buses or the Volvo Group can do themselves, it is built on partnerships and collaborations. Therefore, in parallel with developing vehicles that are safe for drivers, passengers and other road users, we are also an active partner in many different collaborations aimed at improving road safety. These can cover everything from research to campaigns for teaching school children how to act in traffic.”