Volvo is an automaker synonymous with safety, not least for its releasing of the three-point seat belt patent after it had invented the safety device in 1959. Its present-day efforts are outlined in its Vision 2020 aspirations for road safety that aims to have no one killed or seriously injured in a new Volvo.

Now though, the Swedish automaker says “technology alone will not get it all the way to zero (fatalities),” and is broadening its scope to focus on driver behaviour as well. To that end, Volvo will be limiting the top speed of all its new cars to 180 km/h from 2020 onwards.

Volvo’s own research has identified three remaining concerns that constitute ‘gaps’ in its quest to end serious injuries and fatalities in its cars, and the automaker considers speeding to be a very prominent one.

“Because of our research we know where the problem areas are when it comes to ending serious injuries and fatalities in our cars. And while a speed limitation is not a cure-all, it’s worth doing if we can even save one life,” said president and chief executive officer of Volvo Cars Håkan Samuelsson.

Speaking to Automotive News Europe, he added that the company does expect pushback for this bold move, but the same can be said of Volvo’s addition of seat belts 60 years ago which, back then, was criticised for taking away a driver’s freedom of movement. “If someone is going to show leadership in safety, it needs to be Volvo,” he reiterated.

In-car safety technology and smart infrastructure design are no longer enough above certain speeds to prevent severe injuries and fatalities in the event of an accident, says Volvo, adding that it is the reason speed limits are in place in most countries.

“As humans, 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 realise and understand that speeding is dangerous,” said safety expert at Volvo, Jan Ivarsson.

Beyond the limiting of outright top speeds, Volvo is also exploring the combination of smart speed control and geofencing for the automatic limiting of vehicles’ speeds in select areas, such as built-up zones including schools and hospitals.

Beyond speeding, Volvo also recognises two more problem areas in its pursuit of zero road fatalities; intoxication and distraction, and will be presenting ideas towards tackling the issues at a special safety event in Gothenburg, Sweden this month.