Volvo Celebrates 50 Years of Its CSI-esque Accident Research Team

Sure, you can design a car to keep its occupants safe under a certain set of conditions—like a controlled crash safety test—but what about crashes in the real and very unpredictable world? What can be learned from those instances?

As it turns out, the study of those real-world accidents is precisely what Volvo’s Accident Research Team is all about.

Now celebrating is 50th year of operation, the Accident Research Team is sort of like Volvo’s own CSI team that specifically investigates accidents involving its cars. The main difference here, though, is that this team of investigators works to make Volvos even safer instead of getting a conviction.

Since 1970, “Whenever an accident involving a Volvo occurs around Gothenburg, Sweden, be it night or day, they quickly get to the scene when notified. As they arrive, they start an investigation and document the sequence of events as detailed as possible.”

From there, Volvo explains that the team accesses police reports, contacts individuals involved, and even reviews medical records (with permission, of course) to not only see if the safety features worked as intended, but also if there is any room for improvement.

You might be asking yourself, “but what about my Volvo here in America, how can they help me?” Well, Volvo says that in those instances, “the detectives work to map out accidents with the support from Volvo personnel and emergency services closer to the site,” as well as accessing any public records that could pertain to the accident.

Naturally, no one wants to have to rely on their car’s safety features, but it’s good to know that at least a few totaled cars are helping to make future generations of cars safer.

Read the full press release below:

At Volvo Cars, they are known as the company’s in-house detectives. Yet they could also be called the Swedish car maker’s own CSI team, with a little twist on the acronym of TV fame.

The crash scene investigators of the Volvo Car Accident Research Team, which celebrates its 50th anniversary this year, are ready around the clock to make sure that Volvo Cars learns from real-life accidents and constantly improves its cars.

The Accident Research Team’s hard work and research allows Volvo Cars to make sure that a tragic traffic accident can lead to something good: ever safer cars,” says Malin Ekholm, head of the Volvo Cars Safety Centre. “By closely analysing what has happened during each phase of an accident, the team provides crucial information on what can be improved on our cars.”

The team has been in operation since 1970. Whenever an accident involving a Volvo occurs around Gothenburg, Sweden, be it night or day, they quickly get to the scene when notified. As they arrive, they start an investigation and document the sequence of events as detailed as possible.

That means asking questions. How forceful was the impact? How quickly did the active safety systems intervene? How are the passengers? Other questions include: What was the weather like? What was the time? In what condition were the road markings?

The work continues back at the office: the team requests publicly accessible police reports, contacts the driver and examines the car when possible. The team also tries to understand how the driver experienced the accident, a process that involves the Volvo Cars Safety Centre’s behavioural scientists.

Finally, the team will ask the people involved in the accident to share their medical records, which allows them to take note of any injuries sustained. These are analysed by biomechanics experts, in cooperation with physicists, to understand the exact causes of the injury.

All the data and knowledge collected is coded and depersonalised. Conclusions from this research are shared with Volvo’s product development teams, who use it to develop and implement new technologies in upcoming cars. The team also identifies things that can’t be solved today – allowing Volvo Cars to remain at the forefront of safety development.

Every year, the team investigates around 30-50 accidents in person, but accidents happen all over the world and the scene can be hard to reach on time. In those cases and to the degree possible, the detectives work to map out accidents with the support from Volvo personnel and emergency services closer to the site.

On top of that, the team also uses other sources of information such as public accident databases found globally to make sure that the necessary steps are taken.

The Accident Research Team is far from the only source of research data for our safety experts, but it plays an important role for us to really understand the details,” adds Malin Ekholm. “Accidents do still happen, but nowadays the consequences are much milder and serious injuries are much rarer than they used to be.”

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Vigo (Forum Supporter)
Vigo (Forum Supporter) MegaDork
11/1/20 8:27 a.m.

This is beautiful. I love it. 

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