Volvo is introducing two first-ever safety systems, as Alexander Stoklosa writes for Car and Driver. They will be part of the 2016 XC90 SUV (to be unveiled in August), which Stoklosa calls Volvo’s “defacto flagship.”
The New XC90’s ability to auto-brake at intersections and its equally new “Safe Positioning” system (a run-off road protection package) will cement the model’s reputation as one of the safest cars ever made, according to a Volvo press release. “The new technologies will take the company a significant step closer to its vision that no one will be killed or seriously injured in a new Volvo car by 2020,” the press release says.
Alexander George reports for Wired that although cars have had crash detection systems “for a while now,” this will be the first time such technology is designed to work when a driver is making a left turn (or, as in England and Japan, a right turn). This intersection crash protection will clearly be a plus in cities, but it’s also designed to prevent car accidents at high-speed intersections, George writes. Whereas the Department of Transportation suggests a driver on an undivided roadway with a speed limit of 60 miles per hour wait until oncoming cars are at least 500 feet away before turning, that is difficult when the line of sight is blocked or when another driver’s speed can’t be determined, George writes.
Left turns have been a concern in more than one state’s road planning. New Jersey is one of many states that have jughandles as a way of preventing left-turn crashes, as Wikipedia writes. A jughandle is a road design in which a driver who is on, say, Main Street, and wants to turn left onto Broad Street turns right instead, onto a curved road (resembling the shape of an actual jug handle) that brings the driver to a traffic light allowing him or her to cross over Main Street onto Broad without making a left turn.
In Volvo’s new Safe Positioning system, the car can detect when a car is running off the road, and takes additional steps to protect the occupants. As Volvo writes:
To help prevent spine injuries, energy-absorbing functionality between the seat and seat frame cushions the vertical forces that can arise when the car encounters a hard landing in the terrain. The solution is capable of reducing the vertical occupant forces by up to one third. This counteracts spine injuries, which are serious and relatively frequent consequences of these situations.
The new XC90 will also be equipped with pre-crash protection in rear impacts, Volvo writes. This includes rear-facing radars that detect if a rear impact is about to happen, in which case seat belts automatically tighten, lights flash to warn the driver behind, and the brakes are activated to help reduce the impact on occupants. Along with Volvo’s next generation of its Whiplash Protection System, this new rear impact pre-crash package will help reduce whiplash injuries.