In 1997, Sweden enacted a policy known as Vision Zero. The idea behind Vision Zero is that every death suffered in a truck or car accident is preventable. The only acceptable number of traffic deaths is zero. A number of cities around the United States have followed suit in declaring Vision Zero policies. Car companies have been somewhat slower to acknowledge that zero traffic deaths is a plausible goal. Some are starting to come around, though even the most aggressive timelines leave plenty of wiggle room for automakers to institute real changes.
Volvo alone has taken a relatively aggressive line on the need to achieve zero auto deaths. The company stated its goal that, by 2020, no traffic deaths will take place in new Volvo vehicles. Stating such a goal carries little risk, but it does establish that Volvo wants to lead the way in safety.
Auto safety technology has improved dramatically in recent years. Crash prevention systems, including auto-braking, collision warning systems and rear cameras give drivers new tools to avoid accidents. Further breakthroughs currently being tested include cars that talk to one another to eliminate collisions. Driverless vehicles may be ready sooner than previously believed, eliminating the cause of the vast majority of fatal accidents, driver error. The question then becomes, how long will car companies be able to delay safety advancements in the name of maintaining traditional market differentiators?
Source: Tire Business, "Can traffic deaths be eliminated? NHTSA thinks so," by Dave Guilford, 23 May 2016