Safe in the city

OK, so perhaps road safety isn’t quite as ‘exciting’ as an episode of Sex in the City, but staying alive in an accident is always quite high up my agenda.

In fact, keeping other people alive in an accident is also right up there.

According to the number crunchers, if you drive regularly in city traffic, you’re more likely to have an accident.

Perhaps not, though, if you drive one of the new Volvo V40 hatchbacks. A standard feature is something called City Safety.

It’s basically a combination of cameras and algorithms that work out whether the car should stop automatically if the driver is taking no action. It’s particularly useful in preventing ‘rear-enders’.

According to the number crunchers, If you drive regularly in city traffic, you’re more likely to have an accident.

Sounds a bit sci-fi. But I recently had a down-to-earth demonstration of it, including the latest safety initiative called Pedestrian Detection.

This provides automatic braking if the cameras sense a pedestrian is about to walk out into your path and you take no evasive action.

Driving towards a dummy and desperately not trying to put your foot on the brake is one of the most disturbing things you can do. But keep the faith…The car sorts it out and stops! It’s quite amazing.

Now rewind. If that had been for real and the car hadn’t stopped due to the proximity of the pedestrian suddenly walking out…

Well Volvo has thought of that one too – or at least the chance to ameliorate any impact.

The engineers have stuffed the equivalent of a great big airbag under the bonnet. It pops up from under the bonnet at the base of the windscreen to provide a cushioning effect and protect the pedestrian from the mechanical hard bits – such as the engine, and the windscreen.

What’s more, it’s all standard – not only on the V40 but all Volvos.

So if you’re thinking about your fleet and duty of care, then this new Volvo V40 certainly has a compelling safety package.

But there’s also some hard-headed cost-savings available in potentially reducing accident costs.

Chauffeur company, Tristar, trialled City Safety on its chauffeur fleet, and reduced ‘at fault’ rear impacts by 28% in just six months.

Of course, it’s always preferable not to have an accident in city traffic. But if you drive a Volvo, chances are you’re more likely to avoid one than the driver in front.

And keep you safe so you can catch up on those re-runs of Sex in the City…

Want to see it in action? Watch our review of the Volvo V40