Volvo is making a concerted play to reduce speeding deaths in Australia with the launch of its new Care Key, an inclusion on all models that will allow owners to electronically limit the top speed of their car.
From model-year 2021, all Volvo cars will receive the Care Key as standard, giving Volvo owners the opportunity to pre-set their vehicles' maximum speed before handing the car over to younger family members or less-experienced drivers.
This set speed can be managed through the car's infotainment system, with drivers able to designate the limit according to the driver profile.
The Care Key will be supplied on top of Volvo's regular key and can be differentiated thanks to its bold orange colour.
Each Volvo car will be able to recognise when it is being unlocked by a Care Key and will automatically implement the limited top speed of the owner's choosing.
This means you can hold onto your own key but hand the Care Key over to alternate drivers, remaining assured they won't be able to exceed your pre-set settings.
According to Volvo's own research, 47 per cent of parents are concerned about their teenage driver speeding and 52 per cent would love to be able to have control of their teenager's driving speed.
"In 2019, 42 per cent of fatal crashes occurred at speeds of 100km/h or more. Nearly 75 per cent of these deaths involved male drivers, which indicates a higher rate of risk-taking behaviours among men, especially men between the ages of 17-25," said Greg Bosnich, Volvo Australia's Director of Public Relations.
"Parents want to be able to share their car with friends and family, but our research shows they worry about how to ensure they are safe on the road. Volvo Care Key is a good safety solution that gives them some extra peace of mind."
Volvo isn't the first manufacturer to offer drivers the option of limiting the top speed of their cars – Ford has offered a similar feature called the MyKey since 2015, permitting drivers to limit top speed, reduce maximum radio volume, disable the radio until seatbelts are fastened and prevent driver assistance and safety features from being deactivated.
The launch of the Care Key is part of Volvo's global push to reduce road fatalities in its cars, with the manufacturer limiting the top speed of all its cars to 180km/h from model-year 2020 onwards.
At the time, Volvo acknowledged the decision to enforce its own top speed limit had proven "controversial", but said it had "an obligation to continue its tradition of being a pioneer in the discussion around the rights and obligations of car makers to take action that can ultimately save lives".
"Volvo wants to start a conversation about whether car makers have the right, or maybe even the obligation, to install technology in cars that changes their owners' behaviour. Now that such technology is available to use, this question becomes even more important," Mr Bosnich said.
While Australia's official national road toll for 2020 is yet to be released, the country is on track to record a marginally lower death rate than 2019, with 1023 deaths as of November 2020, compared with 1077 in the same period the year prior.