SWSS in car marketing: Volvo saves us from our own carelessness

Check out the loaded language in this piece in the Daily Mail about Volvo’s New and Improved collision warning and auto brake system, which has been enhanced to detect the hazard of swerving cyclists.

Volvo has announced a scanner that slams on a car’s brakes when it detects cyclists swerving or wobbling into the path of the vehicle.

According to the Mail, the reason cyclists would be in the lane with traffic is when we “suddenly swerve,” forcing the automated safety system in the car to “slam on the brakes” in response. Those infamous statements that the cyclist swerved directly into the path of a car are so common as a cause of mortal injury in traffic accident reports we even have a name for them: the Single Witness Suicide Swerve or SWSS because they so often are reported by the single surviving witness, the driver of the car or truck who hit the cyclist. (Here’s a graphic photo of the aftermath of a SWSS.)

It’s impressive technology to be sure and I welcome Volvo’s adoption of it in their cars. In spite of of the impression we’re given of the careful, alert driver in Volvo’s marketing video (below), the most common causes of accidents are high speed and driver inattention. Slow down and pay attention, especially if you’re driving next to a cyclist, and you can prevent even most suicide swerves without the use of technology.

You can see video from Volvo puts the blame on the cyclist – he rides carelessly with headphones and suddenly swerves in front of the driver. The oblivious cyclist is saved from death by the benevolent technology of the car.

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