The word “safety” can mean different things for different people. One of our customers buying a vehicle will probably think about the safety of the driver or other road users and the costs of repairs and downtime, while the employees at one of our plants are likely to think about the safety in the workplace. Since safety is a core value of the Volvo Group, it is not an understatement to say that safety must characterize everything we do.
Every year, more than 1.2 million people die in traffic accidents and 50 million are injured for life. In the most developed countries, traffic safety has fortunately improved during the past 25 years. However, in many countries around the world, traffic safety is in fact deteriorating, largely due to increased transport needs and population growth without the corresponding investments in infrastructure, training and vehicle standards to improve safety.
This is particularly evident on many of the markets on which the Volvo Group is looking to expand. These are regions where the consequences of road accidents are a real obstacle for societal development. Road safety is a transport issue, a health issue, and even a poverty issue, as the consequences of accidents is felt unequally among social groups. As transport demand and urbanization continue, the strain put on the road system will increase. As a primary stakeholder in road safety, the Volvo Group needs to be on top of these challenges.
At the Volvo Group, we have both the knowledge – and the duty – to work actively to increase safety. Compared to many of our competitors, we have taken on a larger role of the societal perspective of the issue. We are doing our best to be a positive force in the communities in which we operate and collaborate with others to accelerate progress in areas outside of our direct control. This attitude goes hand in hand with our overall view on aiming, not only to be a world leader in sustainable transport solutions, but also to be recognized as a proactive and forward looking corporate citizen.
I am personally very proud of the many Volvo Group examples of such societal engagement programs that run globally and locally. Like the successful work with driver training in India, the new safety awareness programs by Volvo China, the Volvo do Brasil traffic safety program, the America’s Road Team sponsorship, and the current ”Stop, Look, Wave” program, where our own employees engage and teach children how to behave safely in traffic.
For a long time now, we have also maintained a significant presence at a high political level, which has helped us to be part of the work on important vehicle and transport political issues. We have a position from which we are able to discuss openly and honestlythe direction of transport policies on an international and a national level, the way research funds are allocated, and the relevance of future regulation so that they generate clear-cut safety benefits to society and our customers. Not everyone has the chance to do this.
When the Volvo Group speaks, people listen. We have earned this level of credibility regarding safety from our partners in the public and private sector because we have demonstrated, time and time again, that we do things that produce proven benefits for society and for our customers.
It is clear that we must continue to deliver in this way also for the future challenges for our sector. Since these are the same challenges as the ones facing society at large, it means, in practice, that we just need to stay relevant. So, it is both an appropriate and necessary strategy. In the long term, this will ensure that we continue to deliver solutions with the highest level of value for our customers and for society, taking us step by step towards realizing our safety vision “Zero Accidents with Volvo Group products”.