GOTHENBURG, Sweden -- On a sunny day, a family of three is traveling on the freeway in a new 2006 Volvo V70 wagon, heading toward Stockholm.
Suddenly, traffic ahead stops, and the V70's driver swerves to the shoulder to avoid hitting the car in front. Within seconds the wagon smashes into a van stopped on the shoulder.
Emergency teams respond - including a representative of Volvo's Traffic Accident Research group.
"We're on call 24 hours a day, seven days a week," says Bengt Lokensgard, a Volvo senior engineer. Lokensgard works here at the Volvo Car Safety Centre, whose mission is to study accidents and use the data to make Volvos safer.
The company has collected data on about 36,000 accidents since 1970, mostly involving Volvos in Sweden, the United States and Thailand.
"Our main focus is on the car and how we design the car," says John-Fredrik Gronvall, manager of traffic accident research. "But we also have to have knowledge about the machine that is actually driving the car - the driver - and about the effect of the traffic environment" on the accident.