McKinsey Problem Solving Test - Example Test Question #1

One of the skills that's being tested during a case interview is something I call data sufficiency.

Basically, you have a bunch of data and the question is do you have ENOUGH data to make a particular conclusion.

This is certainly something that is tested during a live, in-person, face-to-face case interview.

It is also a skill that is often tested in a variety of formats including written tests before the first in-person case interview question is asked.

An example of this is the McKinsey Problem Solving Test which evaluates your data sufficiency skills (among others).

In parts of the McKinsey Problem Solving Test, you are given a bunch of data and some possible conclusions.

Your job is to figure out which conclusions are or are NOT supported by the facts presented.

Now this test is not intended to torture you (though I know some people might argue with me on this one).

It turns out this is a very important skill once you're on the job as a management consultant, especially as a first year analyst or associate.

In addition to a live case interview, the McKinsey Problem Solving Test, other firms have used similar tests (Monitor has done this from time to time) OR have given an in-person case interview where the candidate is presented with a written document consisting of various facts, figures and other dataβ¦ and the data sufficiency skill is tested verbally.

These are all variations of the same thing.

Given a set of data, will you determine the correct, logical, and factually supported conclusion every time?

So bottom line, this skill is pretty important and based on the many emails I've been receiving from aspiring consultants around the world, it seems many people are having a difficult time figuring out how to practice these skill.

So just for kicks, I thought I'd give you an actual data sufficiency type question that a McKinsey Partner in the Los Angeles office asked me when I interviewed there for my final round several years ago.

Before I give you the question (which is posted on my blog), I strongly recommend that you read the question and then immediately hit the "post comment" button to post your answer on my blog.

(You can do so with just your first name or initials if you want to be a anonymous)

(otherwise it sort of defeats the purpose of practicing, and there really are very few opportunities to practice this skill.).

I will be "grading" all the answers posted in a day or two.

Here's the question:

Volvo - The Safest Car in the United States*

* New US government report shows that fewer people die in a Volvo than in any other car brand in Americ
a

(Note: A prior version of this blog post indicated that Volvo was the Safest Car in the World.  My intention was to write U.S., so some of the answers you see may reflect this.)

Assess the validity of this statement, you have 3 - 5 minutes to do so. You are NOT permitted to ask any clarifying questions. Please be SPECIFIC in your answers. Go!

(Remember: Don't cheat by looking at everyone else's response first, look at them AFTER you post your response.)

Scroll down to see the hundreds of answers submitted by readers of my blog.

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• Maggie Nov 7, 2010, 2:01 am

The advertisement is exaggerating since the report draws the conclusion from data in America alone, not all over the world. Hence at best, the slogan can say “Volve—–the safest Car in America.”

• Pengie Nov 8, 2010, 11:53 am

The ad is misleading given the facts. I have three issues with this:

1. What about other types of accidents i.e. minor injuries (cuts, bruises), major injuries (dislocation, disability) or accidents where no one is hurt. Other cars could have better track records than Volvo in this.

2. What does “safe” mean? Safe can be referred to as low risk of accidents, low probability of faults i.e. engine failures etc.

3. What about other countries besides America? You can’t make a claim that you are safest in the world by only having a track record in America.

4. What about other cars in the Volvo family? Volvo is a “car brand” not a “car”, therefore there could be many “cars” in the Volvo family which are safe. Are we saying they are all safe? If so, it ad should be adjusted to say “cars” and not “car”.

• Danielle Levy Jul 8, 2011, 12:24 pm

In assessing this claim two important distinctions must bes made.
(1) Though Volvo boasts the lowest fatality rate, is it the safest with regards to injury. I would want to know the rates of incurring non-fatal injury (serious/non serious) across car manufacturers – looking for Volvo’s performance.
(2) Is it that the car is safe or that Volvo drivers are safer drivers relative to other consumer segments? What’s the most popular make of Volvo? Who is the largest consumer segment for this group. To contextualize this number I would want to know which population segment gets into the most accidents. Also I would like to know which population segment is likely to get the most injured.
I do not think that the information presented is sufficient to draw the conclusion that Volvo is the safest car in the US.

• Rohan Dec 18, 2011, 12:31 am

@Maggie:

1. What percentage of people who travel by Volvo die every year?

2. Safety is being judged by the incident of dying and not by the chance of getting injured.Safety= not getting injured + not dying + no damage to the car

3.It might be possible that while number of people inside Volva who are dying are less but more number of people are being killed by volvo and its driver.That doesnt make volvo exactly a safer car,does it? π

• Baptiste Massart Nov 7, 2010, 6:42 am

It may just mean that fewer people drive a Volvo…

Or that Volvo owners are on average more prudent on the road than owners of other car brands and therefore it may not be an intrinsic property of the car but of the users.

Or even that Volvo cars have a higher accident probability but the probability of dying in these accidents in lower (may loose a leg or an arm but not die).

• HP Nov 7, 2010, 8:37 am

1. The statement assumes that the fewer number of deaths in a car implies that the car is safer. It is possible that the car may prevent deaths but also causes serious injuries unnecessarily.

2. The number of deaths is counted by brand/manufacturer. It is possible that Volvo’s cars are mostly very safe but there may be one car/line that is very accident-prone and that result in many deaths. In this case, it would be hard to generalize that Volvos are the safest brand.

3. The statement looks at the number of deaths without taking into account the total number of cars from the brand. There may just be a fewer number of people driving a Volvo.

4. Just because Volvo has the least number of deaths in the US does not mean that Volvo will have the same standing when compared in the world.

5. The portion of the population riding a Volvo may be more cautious drivers and less prone to getting into accidents, in which case the statement is confusing correlation with causation.

• v Nov 7, 2010, 11:27 am

1. What does fewer mean? what is the percentage?
2. How was the US study was performed? how many brands of car were involved? and which mark of Volvo was considered? how many accidents were considered?
3. how many years of data does this study consider?
4. For each accident, what was the cause? was it because of the car, or the accident situation?

• SG Nov 7, 2010, 11:58 am

Not enough data for the statmemt as data takes in acount only the US.

• K J Nov 7, 2010, 12:40 pm

Death is not the only measure of safety.

• Jonathan Nov 7, 2010, 2:38 pm

This is an invalid claim to make based on the evidence given. Volvo could have had 1 driver in America, who was in a fatal accident. Thus at 100% fatalities it still may have a lower absolute number than other car brands with more cars on the road.

In order to make a valid claim of safety, one would need to consider something more like number of fatalities per hour driven, or per accident, or per mile driven.

• Tilen Nov 7, 2010, 5:45 pm

This may have to do with the fact that Volvo cars are not selling well, hence fewer people die in Volvo cars because there are not many Volvo cars on the road.
The second thing could be that targeted market for Volvo are successful business people and they of from work very late and avoid traffic jams in which most accidents happen.

• Tilen Nov 7, 2010, 5:46 pm

This may have to do with the fact that Volvo cars are not selling well, hence fewer people die in Volvo cars because there are not many Volvo cars on the road.
The second thing could be that targeted market for Volvo are successful business people and they off from work very late and avoid traffic jams in which most accidents happen.

• Mohit Nov 7, 2010, 7:44 pm

There are some inherent assumptions that question the validity of the statement:

1. Deaths are the measure of safety. As long as the person does not die in the car due to an accident, the car is assumed to be safe.

2. Volvo cars has the least number of deaths in US (which could be due to number of reason like better infrastructure, driving behaviours etc), hence the generalization cannot be extrapolated to the world

3. There is no mention of the sample size (no of deaths Vs the no of cars of this particular brand). It could just be that no of people driving volvo is very low or car is not a success

4. This could again be an assumption that the drivers driving VOLVO are cautious drivers, which could mean that it is not car which is safe but the driving behaviour which is causing the car to considered safe.

• Ray Nov 8, 2010, 7:09 am

The fact that a fewer people die in accidents in the US involving Volvo cars than do in accidents involving other cars does not necessarily mean Volvo cars are the safest cars in the US.

For one, it could mean that fewer people drive Volvos than any other car in the US. If this is the case, then for sure, fewer people would be involved in (or even die in volvos)
Secondly, the statistics of people that die in a particular car is not the only indication of the safety of the car. How about people that are involved in accidents, but do not necessarily die as a result of injuries sustained?
Thirdly, limiting the study to cars/drivers in the US alone is not sufficient to conclude that Volvos are the safest in the entire world.

• Akash Singh Nov 8, 2010, 9:08 am

The reports released by the US goverment only localise the VOLVO statement to the US. The headline does not include or state any global remark which could qualify the Global stafety statement made by VOLVO.

So no, the second statement does not provide enough data / evidene to enforce the first statement.

• RB Nov 8, 2010, 9:08 am

The data is insufficient to reach the stated conclusion for at least four reasons.

1. The claim to be the “world’s safest” is not sufficiently proved by information from the US alone.

2. The information tells us that fewer people die in Volvos than in any other car brand, but does not tell us how the ownership rates of Volvos compare to other car brands. It may be, for example, that Ford has twice as many deaths in its cars, but three times as many people own its cars. This would mean that death per car – to put it rather morbidly – would be rather lower in Ford than in Volvo.

3. Safety is not measured by deaths alone. Perhaps Volvo cars are far more prone to non-fatal accidents (perhaps they fail on country lanes), while they are quite good for safety on highways (hence fewer fatal accidents).

4. I would also add that we need information on ownership *type* for these cars. If Volvo is typically owned by a safe driver segment – mid-50s females, for instance – it may appear to be safer than a brand consistently owned by late-teen early-20s males. This would however reflect more on the drivers than on the car.

• Klaus Erik Nov 8, 2010, 9:12 am

I don’t necessarily agree with the statement that Volvo is the safest car in the world. It could mean that the segment that buys Volvos are catious and safe drivers.

• Alex Nov 8, 2010, 9:13 am

There is insufficient data to draw the conclusion that Volvo is the safest car in the world. A few points below:

1.) The US Govt report states it has fewer deaths in America than any other brand, yet Volvo’s tagline says it’s the safest car in the world. This is clearly inconsistent.
2.) Fewest car deaths doesn’t mean it is the safest. Although deaths are a measure of safety, there are a number of other factors (# accidents, airbags, etc) to take in when considering car safety. The tagline oversimplifies the report’s findings. Perhaps the fewest ppl die, but the most get injured in Volvos.
3.) There is very little mentioned in terms of sample size per car brand. We may be comparing entirely different #s of cars by brand (e.g. 1000000 toyotas v. 1000 volvos v. 10 geos). The lack of potential control makes it improper to draw conclusions.
3.) a) Nothing is mentioned also about car models. There may be some variation in the # deaths by Volvo model, which averages out to have the lowest deaths.
4.) The last point I can think of in the time frame, is that it doesn’t take into account the other car brands and car models not in circulation in the United States. There are numerous other brands in countries and even major car companies have unique models based on country.

• Simon P Nov 8, 2010, 9:15 am

This statement is not valid for two reasons.

Firstly, the new Government report is a US document and therefore it is wrong to suggest that this is a representation of the whole world. The US represents only a proportion of Volvo’s Market, and it has different regulations and safety procedures to many other countries that Volvo serves. Without hard evidence from each country on Volvo’s safety record compared to all other brands, it is not valid to suggest that this brand is the safest in the world.

Secondly, this report does not suggest any external factors regarding car safety such as user demographics etc. In order to test this hypothesis, it would be vitally important to see who buys Volvo cars and compare this data with data regarding the main demographics and other car brands. For example, the 18-25 year old demographic are known to be involved in more accidents of a life threatening nature. It would be important to see if this demographic drove Volvo or if it was used more often by families who are known to be safer.

For the reasons highlighted I feel this hypothesis does not hold true.

• rim Nov 8, 2010, 9:15 am

The data provided by the US are not sufficient to conclude that VOLVO is the safest car in the world
-US is not the world

• Dan Nov 8, 2010, 9:16 am

No, there is not sufficient data to check the validity of the statement. There is no data available on how many people actually drive a volvo, compared to other car brands. The lower casuality number could be a result of fewer people owning a volvo, or, alternativley, of volvo owner’s driving less often with their cars than owners of other brands.
Also, “safe” is not defined and could mean anything

• GP Nov 8, 2010, 9:17 am

– what’s the volvo’s representation in the americas market?
– how does it break to various age groups/professions/education level? how’s that compared to the market average?
for instance, maybe volvo is overrepresented in farm places where incidents occur rarely.
– when they say die, do they mean after a crash or from random incidents?
– how one can generalize from what happens in america to what happens in the world(safest in the world) especially when we don’t know how much volvo sells? – we have to ask about the volvo’s represantation across continents

• A.P Jul 7, 2011, 9:14 am

There are several points to counter what Volvo claimed in the advertisement:
– Do fewer people die happen because Volvo’s market share is small in US?
– Volvo didn’t explain the reason its customers die – whether it’s caused by reckless driving, drunk while driving, or get hit by other vehicles.
– Volvo didn’t show data comparison of people die while driving Volvo and those who drive other car brands.
– When the research was conducted? Is the research done annually or just be picked purposefully at the year Volvo got the lowest rank of people die?

• Federico C Nov 8, 2010, 9:17 am

For a valid comparisson, the statistic should be: how many people die per accident with a Volvo and with other car brands taking into consideration the number of passengers in the car. I mean it should add this last information of the number of passegers because you cant compare a crash with only the driver than a crash with 4 passegers.

• GP Nov 8, 2010, 9:17 am

– what’s the volvo’s representation in the americas market?
– how does it break to various age groups/professions/education level? how’s that compared to the market average?
for instance, maybe volvo is overrepresented in farm places where incidents occur rarely.
– when they say die, do they mean after a crash or from random incidents?
– how one can generalize from what happens in america to what happens in the world (safest in the world) especially when we don’t know how much volvo sells? – we have to ask about the volvo’s represantation across continents

• DO Nov 8, 2010, 9:18 am

The statement is not statistically correct for three reasons:

-The fact that less people are dying in a volvo than in any other car does not represent a weighted distribution of the full car driving population and car brands on the street.

-The US data can not be lineary transformed in order to make assumptions about woldwide safeness.

-The term safeness itself needs to be defined. It is not an imperative that safe and the number of deaths are to be set equal.

• MYA Nov 8, 2010, 9:24 am

There are several aspects to this advertisement that must be considered. Here are four questions that come to mind:

1) If “fewer deaths than any other…in America” means “compared to ONLY American car brands”, then that clearly means that characterizing Volvo as the safest car in the world is misleading, since the data doesn’t say anything about German, Japanese, and other foreign car brands.

2) If that same statement means that a comprehensive study was done ONLY in America (with all car brands), it would again point to a misleading characterization, since the tagline says that Volvo is the safest in the **world**.

3) Another aspect of this ad that can be questioned is what parameters were used in the US government study. A few questions come to mind. For example, what was the timeframe in which this study was conducted? Does Volvo’s high safety performance represent a longstanding tradition or a very recent trend?

4) Furthermore, since Volvo is known primarily for its smaller-sized vehicles, what type of cars were tested in the study? The results yielded by comparing a Volvo compact to a Toyota or Ford SUV would cast doubt on the credibility and honesty of the advertisement.

• Javier Nov 8, 2010, 9:30 am

I reckon this kind of statement is more focused to people that can afford a Volvo, because then they might think that, if the survey is correct, then Volvo has a car structure or mechanism that makes it better that others.
said that you have to think how many people have this car in comparison with other cars..because of course there will be more people having a Ford than maybe a Volvo. So maybe a good comparison would be focusing in owners that have the money to pay these types of cars and then comparing how much of them they have a volvo or similar cars and then check the accidents..

that’s what it came to my mind in 3 min

• DD Nov 8, 2010, 9:30 am

Volvo β The Safest Car in the World

New US government report shows that fewer people die in a Volvo than in any other car brand in America

Firstly, we cannot make a conclusion that Volvo is the safest car in the world if the facts are only focused on the US car market.

Secondly, we need to know how many people own a Volvo, if it is one person that owns a Volvo and that survived, then that’s 0% of potential death.

Thirdly, we need to know what are the various segments (entry, mid, highlevel) and the rate of death for each segment, that might be extremely high on one part and extremely low on another one. And on that extremely low part, may be the target customer owning th volvo is at an age range that is not likely to behave in a risky way (drink alcohol and drive, drive fast…etc.).

One last thing to test the validity of the statement, we need to know if the corrolation between safety and the car model is appropriate nowadays (since there are standards of safety), to see if it is a relevant indicator. A better one would be, safety and the approach to risk of the driver (risk adverse or risk lover, for instance). Others as well, would be safety and gender, safety and status (married, single..etc), safety and age, safety and area of living (Are specific weather conditions: hurricanes, snow,…).etc.

• Ad Nov 8, 2010, 9:34 am

The basic problem is absolute numbers don’t mean much. It could be that very few people drive Volvo but the % of people who die in a Volvo crash are more likely to die. The other problem is it could still be the case that more people driving a Volvo get injured than driving any other car. This doesn’t make Volvo the safest car. Finally, it could be that most Volvo drivers use this car for inter city driving rather than for driving on freeways. Thus, the speed during crash are low, reducing the possibility of death or that they receive medical attention quicker. This could invalidate the claim.

• debojyoti sarker Nov 8, 2010, 9:36 am

The above comment may or may not be true. The fact that fewer people die in volvo v/s other cars may be because of the fact that there are less Volvo cars sold (hypothetical) v/s cars of different make.

In order to justify the authenticity of the statement we could analyze different data like:
1. total number of cars (of different make) that met with ‘major’ accident and number of drivers who survived the crash

The above analysis will show us what percentage of which car is safe to ride.

• D Nov 8, 2010, 9:40 am

The comment itself holds true in a statistical sense but it does not necessarily prove the claim made in the statement. This is because there could be several factors deciding the number of people dying in a particular brand of car, in this case Volvo. If the number of Volvo cars are much less in the roads of America, automatically it will decrease the number of accidents and related deaths. On the other hand if the total number of Volvo cars in the US road is same as any other cars there is a possibility that Volvo has better safety in its design that its competitors which minimises accident and related death. There is another point to be noted while accepting the validity of the statement. Which group of people, if there exists any, drives Volvo in American roads. Depending on people behaviour and number of miles they drive Volvo cars in a certain time period compared to the cars by competitors driven by different behavioural group with different number of miles will have an impact on the number of deaths in road accidents. So there are not sufficient data to come to a concrete conclusion about the validity of the sentence. But if the statistics supports the sentence as valid we shall be able to make a few inferences, for example, the number of Volvo cars driven in the American road, its safety measures and engineering superiority over other car manufactures and also some knowledge about the group of people who drives Volvo.

• Jonathan Nov 8, 2010, 9:41 am

“Volvo – the safest car in the world” is a conclusion that cannot be drawn from the statement above.

First, because the report gives data about the US only. Not the entire world. So Volvo may be the safest car in the US but not in the world.

Second, because the report says that fewer people die in a Volvo, but that may be due to the fact that there are fewer Volvo drivers than any other brand drivers. The figure should have been a percentage of all Volvo drivers.

Third, the report should include the number of accidents, or injuries. It only states the number of deaths.

• Ajs Nov 8, 2010, 9:42 am

The statement made by the advertisement is based on a US government report which is proclaimed to be a novel , however nothing is mentioned regarding the year when the report was published and the details of sample space which was used for this report i.e. which other cars brands that were taken into account and in which states in US or other Countries was this study carried out ? Thus given the absence of the above mentioned details, I would say the statement made by the advertisement is not be very valid.

• tae Nov 8, 2010, 9:42 am

Volvo β The Safest Car in the World*

* New US government report shows that fewer people die in a Volvo than in any other car brand in America

Not valid as,
1. US government report may not be reliable.
2. Fewer people may die, but many more people may be extremely hurt
3. America does not represent the whole world
4. There may be very few Volvo sold that the number of people die is very few
5. the low number of death in accidents does not necessarily mean safest
6. People may die in the hospital after an accident, but not inside volvo

• SM Nov 8, 2010, 9:45 am

– Volvo β The Safest Car in the World*

* New US government report shows that fewer people die in a Volvo than in any other car brand in America

This is an advertising statement, and one intended to convey brand values rather than fact. The report topline finding validates the claim from one angle only, but not from the many suggested in the opening statement.
Not stated by the report topline finding are:
– the length of time over which the findings were measured (ie it might be so this month, but not over time which is what the advertisement suggests)
– whether number of deaths is the best way of measuring overall safety (what about minor/major injury)
– which model of Volvo was tested (all, or just one)
– what other brands there are in the world (US market only tested here)
Other data that might be relevant:
-whether this report tested car safety in any particular conditions
– quality or difference of road surfaces in the US vs other countries in the world
– whether a difference was marked if the Volvos surveyed were the cause or the victim of the accidents.
My conclusion is that there is not sufficient data here to validate this claim.

• Rebecca Nov 8, 2010, 9:46 am

This statement has several key gaps:
(1) It is translating safety of a car to number of deaths. Safety can also be defined by number of accidents, dummy tests, types of safety features, etc.
(2) The people who tend to buy Volvos tend to be more affluent and more likely to likely to exert “safer” habits and live in safer environments. We need to look at the populations that buy different car brands. Most likely the population buying Volvos would have better health, fewer deaths, etc. anyway absent of driving Volvos.
(3) The statement is looking at all types of Volvos. It would be important to look at different classes – perhaps with other car brands there is greater differentiation in classes and deaths are concentrated in the lower classes, contributing to their higher numbers of total deaths. Volvo should be looking at safety in terms of its competitor classes.
(4) It is based on a single “new US report.” Where did this report come from? Where did the data originate from? What was the time frame of recorded deaths? Given the nature of research, and the fact that this was reported by Volvo itself, it can likely be biased and the validity of the data needs to be further examined.

• Abed Nov 8, 2010, 9:47 am

The claim made here is false.
The statement says Volvo as safest car in the world. However, the facts provided show that it is the safest car in America. Thus, we can not conclude Volvos safety ranking on the world scale.

• Jim Abraham Nov 8, 2010, 9:47 am

The data is insufficient. An additional data of the percentage of volvo owners compared with other car brands is required.

• Deepak Nov 8, 2010, 9:47 am

New US government report shows that fewer people die in a Volvo than in any other car brand in America

Caveat: The statement refers to total number; raw number of deaths from volvo accidents may be lower due to volvo sales numbers being low in comparison to other manuf. Thus lower number doesnt necessarilty indicate safety.

1a. Total car accident related deaths year by year comparison (5years)

1b. Total number of car accidents yr-by-yr (5 years)

1c. Total number of cars sold in 5 yr period segmented by manufacturer

1a and 1b will give you an idea whether they are proportionate or if death rate has gone down resulting is less volvo deaths

Break 1b down by car manufacturer and compare to 1c. This data will give insight into whether volvos (which are a smaller percentage of car sale –compared to honda, toyota etc) are crashed less leading to less volvo deaths.

If the percentage of volvos sold = percentage of volvos in crashed cars, then calculate proportion of deaths in volvo car accidents to total. If this percentage is less than the volvos/total cars, it lends credibility to statement.

If % of volvos sold β  % of volvos in crash; and % of volvos in crash = % of volvo related death ; then its likely that volvo drivers may just be safer driver (due to demographics of byuers) and thus lead to less deaths.

• Deepak Nov 8, 2010, 10:01 am

@Deepak:

Sorry .. did not see the first part in bold.

Now compare US volvo sales and accident numbers to worldwide numbers. If they are equivalent or close, the statement MAY be valid.

Caveat: 1. You are using ‘not dying’ as a indicator of safety. A better indicator of safety might be that less percentage of volvos get into accidents (but that takes into account driver behavior)
2. Also deaths is partially a by product of healthcare system. Thus, if data is gathered for one manufacturer from one region it should also be gathered for all other manuf from the same region to maintain validity due to access to the same healthcare facilities.

• Aaron Nov 8, 2010, 9:50 am

In my opinion the given data are not sufficient to reach the conclusion. A few reasons could be:
1. The report was made by US government and is referred to America not worldwide.
2. The data (people died) in the report were taken in absolute value (number of people died) or they were normalized for each car brand (numer of people died in a “car brand” / number of “car brand” sold)?
3. I would like to explore further the car market segmenting it by age: which age segment buy more Volvo (probably a Volvo is too expensive for a 20 years old man)? This aspect is crucial: a 50 years old man has more drive experience than a 20 years old one.
4. I would preferably compare each car with its direct competitors (e.g. cost, type, etc.).

• IK Nov 8, 2010, 9:53 am

The statement is inconclusive as it makes no reference to relative ownership / market penetration of different car brands and only uses absolute data for support.

For example, Volvo may have an extremely low penetration in the US market relative to other car makers. Hence, even if if absolute deaths of Volvo drivers are less than for other cars, it could well be the case that death rates amongst Volvo drivers are higher.

• J van Dam Nov 8, 2010, 9:54 am

The brand explicitly states that volvo is that safest car in the world, whereas the footnote refers to a US government report, which states that fewer people die in Volvo’s that in other car brand IN THE US. So the statement in the ad is incorrect. It would be more accurate as follows: Volvo β The Safest Car in the US. This ad would then obviously be tailored for the US car market

• Nicola Nov 8, 2010, 9:55 am

The statement is not valid because it might be the case that fewer people drive Volvos than other car makes.

In order to assess the validity of the statement, we also need to know the number of Volvos driven in the US compared to other car brands and work out a fatality rate (number of deaths per cars sold or per total miles travelled by clients of a particular car brand).

• J van Dam Nov 8, 2010, 9:57 am

The brand explicitly states that volvo is that safest car in the WORLD, whereas the footnote refers to a US government report, which states that the fewest people die in Volvo’s than in other car brands IN AMERICA. So the statement in the ad is incorrect. It would be more accurate as follows: Volvo β The Safest Car IN AMERICA. This ad would, however, then obviously be tailored for the American car market. Mind you, even then the text is not totally S.M.A.R.T. (Specific, Measurable, etc). Which market is meant with America: the US? Or North America? and so forth. I would be triggered to find out more about the specific region that is being referred, so that an accurate statement can be made.

• AZ Nov 8, 2010, 10:00 am

The info available is not sufficient to reach this conclusion because:

1. The report doesn’t tell us about injured persons in a Volvo.

2. The report doesn’t tell us about people injured or killed outside the car i.e. pedestrians or people in other cars involved in the accident.

3. The report tells us only about US, not the world.

4. The report tells us about absolute figures not percentages (maybe there is less people dying because there is very few Volvo in the US).

5. The report doesn’t tell us about car categories (there is maybe only one very safe model of Volvo in the US).

6. There’s no info about the study timeframe.

• sk Nov 8, 2010, 10:05 am

– How many Volvos are sold in the US? (relative to US average)
– how many people are usually transported in a Volvo? (compared to US average)
– How many capital accidents do Volvo drivers have? (relative to US average)
– Which is the survival rate per capital accident of Volvo drivers? (could be influenced by underlying factors, e.g. “are Volvo drivers richer than the average and therefore eligible to better medical treatment?” etc.)

Thes questions have to be assessed in order to come to a judgement on the validity of the claim.

• BL Nov 8, 2010, 10:05 am

This comment is not valid.

Two specific claims have been made:
1. Volvo is the safest car IN THE WORLD
2. Volvo is the safest car

The first claim can be invalidated by the fact that this study was done in the US. Assuming the claim was valid in the US, the number of cars in the US is much less than the number of cars in the rest of the world. While it could be the safest car in the world, the study gives no evidence of the safety of Volvo cars outside of the US.

The second claim is also invalid given the subsequent “fewer people die in Volvo’s.” Fewer people dying in Volvos does not imply that the proportion of people dying in Volvo’s / Volvo owners is smaller than the rest of the car market.

• NS Nov 8, 2010, 10:05 am

for the following 3 reasons, I think the conclusion is not sufficiently supported by the referenced data:
1- The number of Volvo cars is less than many other brands in the US.
2- Data is for the US only, whereas conclusion is made for the world.
3- Data related to death incidents, whereas conclusion refers to safety in general.

• Bruce Nov 8, 2010, 10:13 am

Volvo’s claim is misleading for the following reasons:

1. The US government report indicates aggregate deaths in cars, which, although a function of safety, is more likely to be influenced by the number of cars of a certain brand within the market. For example, if Ford and Toyota were to sell identical cars, and Ford sold twice as many as Toyota (with all things being equal), there would be twice as many deaths reported in the Ford car, despite it being as ‘safe’ as the Toyota.

Perhaps a more meaningful statistic could be ‘total user hours (or kilometres) driven per fatality’.

2. The US Government report explicitly states that the report is for US drivers only. Although the US is a major market for cards, the report, therefore, does not contain sufficient information to make a claim regarding safety ‘in the world’.

3. The US Government report also does not specify the cause of fatalities. That is, only fatalities directly attributable to the safety performance of a car should be considered. For example, fatalities caused predominantly by ‘driving under the influence’ is not a fair reflection on the safety performance of a car.

And a final (minor) point…

4. The US Government report also states that it is for brands sold in the US market. Although the US car market most likely contains most car brands, perhaps there are a few ‘safer’ car brands in the world which are not available in the US market.

Keep up the good work Victor!

• Arief Nov 8, 2010, 10:14 am

I think we should get another data about what makes people die and where people die in another car brand to get more clear view about the situation. And also about the percentage amount people in America from total people in the world also the comparison between Volvo use and other car brands.

• DK Nov 8, 2010, 10:17 am

Safety can mean two things – “safety of a car” (includes safety of using it on the road in terms of driving, safety for others on the road) and “safety in a car” (this includes safety of those who in a car).

Then if we deal with first one, then statement is not valid (there can be a lot of accidents involving volvo cars per total volvos).

If we deal with the second, then we should be articulate what safety means. Safety can be splitted to two safetys againg – probability to be involved in the accident driving volvo 1 hour on the average road at the average speed, and the probability to get into some group of injured when being involved in the accident (groups can be “light injury”, “hard injury”, “death”). In general, safety is an integral characteristic in this way.

The statement is valid only if we deal with the “safety in a car” and choose the meaning of probability to die after car accident (assuming equal accidents of each car brands in average).

So, in general, tha statement is not valid, because it is not clear what the meaning of word safety is.

DK

• MG Nov 8, 2010, 10:22 am

The statement may be right or wrong. It is invalid in the sense that with the given information we cannot proof its correctness. The reason is that the government report only says that the absolute number of people dying in a Volvo is smaller than in any other car brand, but this does not mean that the percentage of people driving a Volvo and dying is smaller than the percentage of people driving other car brands and dying (because the number of Volvos may be smaller than the number of other car brands). Because of the latter, the probability of dying in a Volvo may not be smaller than in other car brands.

• Aninda Nov 8, 2010, 10:24 am

2 points:

1.) The “America” part is valid because America is a part of the world. So, if it is the safest in world then it is also the safest car in America.

2.) The “fewer people die in a Volvo” is not valid because people can die either by driving their Volvos recklessly or may die out of medical conditions like heart attacks etc while inside the car. These eventualities have nothing to do with the safety quality of Volvo.

• DG Nov 8, 2010, 10:28 am

Volvo β The Safest Car in the World*

* New US government report shows that fewer people die in a Volvo than in any other car brand in America

Look at the chain of events:
1. You have to buy the car (do people buy less volvos than other cars?– prob yes)
2. You have to drive it (do people who buy volvos drive less and hence have less frequent accidents —- need assessment)
3. You have to crash it (do people who drive volvos crash less?)
4. You have to go to the hospital/be treated and then die (do area in the US where people drive/crash volvos have better trauma treatment? Do people die less frequently after crashes in volvos?)
5. Do these number translate to worldwide numbers?

All the above have to to be established prior to determining the validity of the statement.

• S Nov 8, 2010, 10:28 am

Not valid.
1. We don’t know how many cars that are driven in America that are Volvo. Need percentage.
2. Did I say America? Yes! America =/= the World.
3. I’m not

• Andy Schneider Nov 8, 2010, 10:30 am

New US government report shows that fewer people die in a Volvo than in any other car brand in America

Data Needed:

1) Number of people who drive Volvos in the US
2) Number of people who drive other companies’ cars in the US
3) Number of accidents of Volvo drivers in the US
4) Number of accidents of non-Volvo drivers in the US
5) Mortality rate of Volvo drivers in accidents in the US
6) Mortality rate of non-Volvo drivers in the US

• Tom Nov 8, 2010, 10:30 am

This statement is general one and clearly lacks substantiation. There aren’t any supporting data which will prove this statement (for example number of Volvo’s/other car brands in US, total number of car accidents in the US for certain period of time and car accidents with Volvo involved, as well as fatality rate in car accidents)

• dp Nov 8, 2010, 10:30 am

The report only includes deaths in America, not the entire world. Also, there are probably other brands of cars sold in the rest of the world–but not in the U.S.–and they might be safer than the Volvo. Also, the fewest number of deaths does not equate with safety. If a greater number of people are having accidents, even becoming paralyzed, in Volvo’s–but just not dying–then it still might not be the “safest.” car.

• Sahil Rohmehtra Nov 8, 2010, 10:35 am

I believe the above statement does strengthen the claim that Volvo is a safe vehicle, but however the data has the following shortcomings:

a) The inference is extrapolated by findings only in the United States as the sample space and hence drawing a conclusion that Volvo cars are the safest in the world is incorrect.

b) Research specific to the skill set of drivers motoring the Volvo is missing, i.e. It is possible that Volvo car drivers may drive their vehicles slower, or adhere to the traffic rules and so on.
One of the ways of evaluating this result is by identifying insurance claims and effectively the premium paid by these drivers compared to drivers of other cars.

c) The definition of safety here seems to limit itself to deaths in a car accident only, but however there could be cases where drivers of the vehicle may have experienced more fatal injuries during impact accidents as compared to drivers of other vehicles.

• J.C. Nov 8, 2010, 10:36 am

Data only applies to car-based mortalities in the U.S. – making it hard to make the claim of “safest in the world.”

Data could be skewed by not considering all non-lethal accidents. The data ignores total number of accidents as well as injuries (either severe or not severe) resulting from accidents, so there is some ambiguity with the term “safest.”

• W. X. Nov 8, 2010, 10:37 am

I do not think the premise well supports the conclusion for the following reasons.

1. The US report only includes deaths occurred in the US but the conclusion is about the safest car in the WORLD.

2. Death is not the only relevant statistics as far as car safety is concerned. Other factors could be injuries and malfunction on road (i.e., potential to deaths and injuries).

3. It is not clear if cautious drivers prefer Volvo. If so, the conclusion cannot be supported by the premise.

• Miguel Nov 8, 2010, 10:39 am

We would need to know the number of accidents a Volvo car has, and how many of those are fatal. Then we should compare them to the other brands.

• AP Nov 8, 2010, 10:41 am

This advertisement may be mere puffery, yet it is certainly not supported by the statistic provided. The fact that fewer people die in a Volvo than any other car brand can be due to many different factors. For example, there may be fewer overall Volvos in America, therefore leading to fewer deaths (ie: if there are 1 Million Toyotas and 50,000 people die a year, that is 5% of the number of cars. If there are 100,000 Volvo and 50,000 people die a year, that is 50% of the number of cars.) Another reason could be that most Volvos are only 2 seater cars, while other companies can have 7, 8, 9, 10, etc. people in the car. With fewers seats in the car, the less number of people that can be harmed in an accident. Also, it could be possible that Volvo drivers have the highest number of people driving alone. This further would be a reason why less people die in Volvos.

In conclusion, the report does not control out all other factors that could contribute to the fact that fewer people die in a Volvo. It could be a true statement, but many other numbers and statistics must be provided to see if it is true.

* How many people drive Volvos?
* How many people drive every other brand in America?
etc.

• M.Y. Nov 8, 2010, 10:42 am

Volvo β The Safest Car in the World*

* New US government report shows that fewer people die in a Volvo than in any other car brand in America

The claim isn’t valid saying that Volvo is the safest car “in the world”.
Given that the evidence is based on casualty rates in America ONLY, it can only show Volvo’s safety performance in America, not in the whole world.

The fact that fewer people die in a Volvo than in any other car brand in America can’t prove Volvo as the ‘safest’ car. There are a lot of possible metrics to measure safety other than the absolute number of deaths. For example, accident rate per 1000 car, number of injury per accident, number of reports on dysfunction etc. Just by looking at the absolute number of deaths caused by Volvo vehicles is misleading as Volvo could have sold a lot fewer cars than other brands in America.

• Sahil Rohmehtra Nov 8, 2010, 10:47 am

The above claim is strengthen by the latest US Government findings, however, there are certain logical offsets that I would like to point out:

a) The claim that Volvo is the safest car in the world is extrapolated by a survey conducted only in the US.

b) A research testing the motoring skills of Volvo drivers in comparision to other drivers needs to be conducted, i.e. Volvo drivers may be slower in comparision to drivers of other cars in the same segment.
One of the ways of collecting this data is by identifying the insurance claims by these drivers, and consequentially the premium paid by them, which if lesser could prove that Volvo drivers are safer drivers in comparision to drivers of other cars.

c) A possibility that Volvo car drivers adhere to the rules more strictly in comparision to drivers of other cars.
One of the ways of collecting this data is by calculating the ratio of tickets collected owing to traffic violation, the database of which is available in the cities traffic department.

d) Next there lies an ambiguity in the definition of safety itself; If one survives an accident then the claim made is “Safe” else “Unsafe”. This overlooks the number of fatal though not terminal accidents, i.e. there could be a possibility that Volvo car drivers meet with serious accidents more often than drivers of other vehicles, though the number of people eventually sucumbing to their injuries is relatively lower.

e) Additionally, there is no mention of the features of the vehicle itself: That is it may be a possibility that for a similar segment top speeds offered by volvo cars may be lesser than those offered by their competitors.

• C s Nov 8, 2010, 10:53 am

Report says ” America” but the Ad claimed “In the World”. The statement does not support the ad.

• Sanjay Nov 8, 2010, 10:53 am

Some facts:
– US is one of the largest auto markets and could provide statiscally relevant information on auto safety data.
– Death in an auto accident is only one (albeit a major) factor and we can argue that we need more details (on % basis than on absolute basis).

However, we have to assume that when US Governement publishes safety data for consumers, it bases it on research and data and on several safety factors. Volvo is an established brand globally as safety being their core selling feature. Although may not be sufficient to prove a legal claim, US Government data would likely be a solid endorsement of Volvo’s marketing claim to be the safest car brand (based on # of deaths at least) in the US.

• Frederique Nov 8, 2010, 10:56 am

The fact that fewer people die in a volvo might be related to different causes:

– The car might be safer (because of the quality of its pieces or its engineering)

– Customers that are attracted to that brand might be more cautious on the road (i.e. adults, families, etc). This might be related to the fact that the marketing campains promote safety over speed, which in turns influences the brand image. Thus, this would simply be a self fulfilling prophecy.

– The key regions in which volvos are sold might have stricter road regulations (for example a lower speed limit, seat belt regulations, etc)

• TT Nov 8, 2010, 11:00 am

It is not a valid statement for a few reasons.

1. A study conducted in the US is not generalisable to the world. What about countries with less developed road works? Or countries with a different landscape, e.g. more valleys and mountains to travel on? Do Volvos perform just as “safely”?

The validity of the statement also relies heavily on what the report actually found. There are a lot of other elements that need to be considered.

2. For example, did they base the conclusion solely on the total number of deaths? A more accurate data would be the ratio/average number of deaths, not total. If there are less Volvos on the road as compared to another brand, logically, there should be less number of deaths. Hence, the number of death per brand should be compared to the number of the cars on the streets. E.g. Volvo could have 2 deaths out of 100 cars, so that’s a ratio of 1:50. Mercedes could have 5 out of 500 cars, so that’s 1:100. Hence, a volvo would still have the fewest deaths in total, but Mercedes would have a lower ratio of deaths, which to me would signify a more reliable statistic.

3. Another element to consider would be how Volvo actually measures the term “safe”. If number of deaths = safe, that might be a more valid statement. But generally, I think people would also consider the number of accidents, the severity of accidents, etc. Hence, we can’t conclude safe to be equal to the number of deaths.

Therefore, it is a highly invalid statement.

• TT Nov 8, 2010, 11:04 am

Also forgot to mention cause and effect.

Investigating the market that drives a Volvo vs markets that drive other brands would provide insight into the low number of deaths. E.g. an older market who drives safely might prefer a Volvo, hence, it would have less accidents. Whereas a younger market that prefers flashy cars like BMWs would lead BMW to have higher accident stats.

• ryz Nov 8, 2010, 11:05 am

There a several biases in the marketing statement of Volvo.

First of all, the statement implies that there are approximately the same numbers of Volvo cars circulating in the US than any other brand. This underlying assumption is certainly not true. Therefore, having 10 accidents with a Volvo when there are 1000 Volvo in the streets means exactly the same that when having 100 accidents with a Toyota when there are 10000 Toyota out there.

Secondly, the statement implies that the mechanical performance of the car is the main reason of a car accident. However, we know from experience that this assumption does not hold either. Therefore, we should consider the driver population of the Volvos. In deed, statistically some population of drivers (such as young drivers, male driversβ¦) are more likely to have car accident than others, because of certain riskier behaviors (such as alcohol consumption, speedingβ¦). An analysis of the users of Volvo car could give us more insight and allow us to better assess the statement.

Finally, the statement implies that lethal accident rate is the best indicator to assess the safety of a car, whereas others indicators such as the total accident rate (including both lethal and non lethal), crash test results could be also good ways to evaluate the safety of a car.

• Lucy Nov 8, 2010, 11:15 am

Volvo β The Safest Car in the World*

* New US government report shows that fewer people die in a Volvo than in any other car brand in America

The validity of this statement is questionable:

(i) using data from only America to make assumptions about the world
(ii) although fewer people die in a Volvo than in any other car brand, there is not sufficient information on injuries sustained (safety is not just death), the percent of people that drive Volvos in America, and the percent of people that die in a Volvo
(iii) age group matters. the number of people that die in Volvo could contain a lot of noise. It has been shown that accidents occur more frequently for young people than old. hence if Volvo’s consumers are primarily in the more mature age group, this could affect the accuracy of the statement
(iv) definition for safety. Safety is not just death, again. Safety can mean the effectiveness of the break system, function of the car in inclement weather, and how often the car or parts of it malfunctions.

Overall, this is a very specific statement that needs to be backed up by a substantial amount of data and evidence and the proof given is not nearly enough to uphold the statement. Volvo could be the safest car in America, given the statement. But it is a far stretch to say Volvo is THE safest car in the world.

• KSEguy Nov 8, 2010, 11:16 am

Well, Iβm fairly confident to say that if you own Volvo and live in the US itβs unlikely that you will die in a car accident because people who own Volvo are more accurate and more patient when driving. However, advertisement overstates the results obtained in report. Report claims that in is save to own Volvo is the US whereas ads claim that it is save to own Volvo anywhere is the world. Thus, we donβt have enough ground to say that Β«Volvo β The Safest Car in the WorldΒ»

• Jakobicek Nov 8, 2010, 11:29 am

There are several issues with the statement:

1. The government study only deals with American market – it may well be that in the rest of the world there is a different driving pattern which makes Volvos more prone towards accidents

2. Volvo drivers may have(and actually do have) the reputation of being more cautious if compared to say Ferrari drivers – less speeding, DUI – the study does not address this issue

3. Volvo may only sell big family cars which on the whole have lower death rates due to added safety measures while other companies not only sell those but sports cars as well which have higher death rate

4. The study only mentions the absolute number of death – Volvo drivers may drive less and be less numerous than drivers of other brands leading to less deaths in Volvos – the study should at least count deaths on per car sold basis better yet deaths on carkilometer basis

5. Death rate is misleading when it comes to measuring safety – it could well mean that Volvo drivers are more often paralyzed and severly injured

• SG Nov 8, 2010, 11:30 am

* New US government report shows that fewer people die in a Volvo than in any other car brand in America – The data given here is not sufficient to determine the validity of the hypothesis (Volvo – the safest car in the world) because:

1. fewer people could have died in a Volvo because the number of accidents involving a Volvo brand vehicle could have been very less in the US compared to other brands.

So, the data needed to verify this hypothesis is Number of people dead in a Volvo/Number of accidents involving a Volvo. The denominator is what is needed to confirm the hypothesis.

• SG Nov 8, 2010, 11:40 am

Assumption: Car driving by a individual when the accident happened. @SG:

• j Nov 8, 2010, 11:40 am

I think there is probably validity to the statement, but the question is why less people die in Volvo cars. Is it because they are safer? Or is it because safe drivers tend to buy Volvos? If we’re able to receive data that safe drivers tend to purchase Volvo cars, then it is not sufficient enough to say that Volvos are the reason why they have less deaths. The reason then becomes the purchasing pattern of safe drivers and how they have a propensity to purchase Volvos.

• MJB Nov 8, 2010, 11:50 am

The statement says ‘safest car’.. but does safety = less people dieing.. what about serious injuries or handling issues, etc.

Additionally the statement is only valid for America, although could be argued that if the US stocks all car brands that are available around the world, is a good indicator? Terrain, climate issues all part of the consideration around the world.

• Kiran Annaiah Nov 8, 2010, 12:04 pm

Just by itself the statement does not have much validity. The questions that need to be asked is
1) What is the data set used to measure the accident rates
2) Secondly, most of the volvo buyers tend to be high-income earners and also slightly older. Their driving habits might explain the low rates of death.
3) Fewer people could also be due to fewer people driving Volvo as mentioned in point 2.
4) Probably a comparative percentage of people driving a particular car and the resulting death rates might be one way to make this statement more valid.
5) Many different variables have to be taken into account to truly arrive at such a conclusion – type of driver, habits of a driver, locality where most volvo drivers live and maybe compare drivers buying other cars in the same locality, etc. A more thorough regression analysis is what might be needed to make this statement more valid.

• MM Nov 8, 2010, 12:19 pm

I didn’t see anything else in the test besides that one statement, so I would say it cannot be supported as the world’s safest car brand based on 1 country’s report on its own country.

• Jayz Nov 8, 2010, 12:19 pm

New report shows the result, what hap penes to the previous result? Is volve constantly no.1 or not.
We Need to get how many volves on te street, or market shre of volve, as we need to compare death rate of each brand. Insteadnof the absolute number.
Thirdly, we should also consider the number of people injured, or rate of injury.
Forthly, we also need to consider how mny accident is associated with each brand

• Rasmus Nov 8, 2010, 12:30 pm

The statement suggests that it follows that being the safest car in the US would mean being the safest car in the whole world. This is an exageration that is not supported by the original statement.

Furthermore, simply havign the smallest fatality number does not mean it is the safest. Perhaps the number of Volvos in the US is small in relation to e.g. Toyota or GM, which would mean a smaller number of people are driving the cars. In addition, the family segment, being perhaps the largest consumer group of Volvo cars live in quite suburban areas or are relativly safe drivers. These speak against the ergo fact that havign few casualties means being a safe car.

In addition, a single survey is not enough to draw a reliable consclusion on the topic.

• Paul Nov 8, 2010, 12:52 pm

Invalid statement. “safest” => least probability of fatality / injury => lowest ratio of fatality / injury to total number of cars driven.

• Nastin Igor Nov 8, 2010, 1:03 pm

There are 4 main points to consider – method of calculations, customers, cars and geography.

1) It is neccesary to define the method of calculation. If the estimation is based on a results of simply counting of number accidents with fatalities, involving Volvo car, it might be wrong because number of Volvo might be less than other cars. The valid method would be based on number of deaths/number of cars sold.

2) Then, we need to take a look at number of injured during this accidents vs other brands (with respect to the number of cars sold). May be owners of Volvo frequently injured during the accidents, but not lethal.

3) Also, it is neccesary to understand, who is typical owner of Volvo? May be this kind of person drives car more carefully than owner of Porsche, for example.

4) Could this statement be transferred to the rest of the world? Roads, rules, enviroment and etc. are very different from country to country, so we need information about situattion in Europe, Asia and etc.

• JSR Nov 8, 2010, 1:08 pm

It’s not bad evidence but is far from conclusive. Here are some reasons why:

1. It’s based on America not the whole world.
2. It says nothing about proportion of deaths from Volvo crashes. If 10% of people in Volvo crashes die as opposed to 5% in some other make of car, which happens to be crashed more than twice as frequently (for example because this brand sells more than twice the number of Volvos sold) then the statistic is misleading as the other brand would be safer but the statistic remains true- skewed by the better sales figures on the other brand.
3. It tells us nothing about Volvo drivers. If people who buy Volvos don’t want to drive it very often (eg. Elderly) then Volvos are on the road far less and thus less likely to be in collisions.
4. It tells us nothing about injuries- though I imagine it’s a fairly safe assumption that the number of deaths in a car and the number of injuries in it have some correlation.

Point 2 is the main concern: if nobody drove a Volvo then the statistic would still be true!

• David Nov 8, 2010, 1:19 pm

Foremost, βsafetyβ is a relatively ambiguous word; it can mean different things to different people. Is mortality the best proxy for βsafetyβ? Maybe. But, I would assert that it is only one of many factors that need to be taken into consideration.

Secondly, there is a geographical mismatch in scope between the claim and the underpinning data. Indeed, America is great, but it isnβt necessarily accurate to presume consumer experience in one developed country is representative of the global data set.

Finally, this claim is predicated on an absolute value, which is not necessarily comparable. Greater comparability would have been achieved by adjusting this statistic in consideration of another factor, such as passenger hours (e.g. deaths per passenger hour).

While Volvo may be able to legally make this claim–although Iβd have to defer to the attorneys on that issue–in my opinion, it is not entirely justified based on this data set alone.

• dr Nov 8, 2010, 1:19 pm

Claim not supported by evidence.

1. Only US data presented and wold claim made.
2. Validity of US data questionable — need to know relative statistics not absolute to make the claim of US safety (i.e. could be fewer deaths because there are fewer Volvo on the road not because they are safer).

• Saleha Siddique Nov 8, 2010, 1:19 pm

Invalid statement as:

a) You cannot extrapolate from ‘America’ to ‘the World’

b) Number of deaths by themselves are not indicative of safety – a glaring omission is not looking at injuries, weighing for severity of injury. You may want to adjust for factors like say speed of the car at the time of the accident, so that you’re not comparing a Volvo that crashed at 50MPH and a Toyota that crashed at 100MPH, and any other crash characteristics (on which we have data) that could skew numbers (don’t compare a Volvo that crashed into a tree versus a Toyota that fell off a cliff) Finally, you may want to scale by the size of the car, the assumption being that bigger cars should be safer than smaller ones so we’d want to even the playing field when comparing.

• Hari Nov 8, 2010, 1:36 pm

No the statement is not sufficient to claim that Volvo is the safest car in the World. Here are my reasons:

1. The statement only states about US deaths in a Volvo and we do not know what is the statistics for the entire world.
2. “Fewer people die” does not reveal the intensity of the accident – may be most of the volvo accidents were minor ones but still people died!
3. Is less deaths of people in an accident actually a good measure of the safety of the car – I’m not sure. Also we do not know the number of accidents in which Volvo was involved in and the number in which other cars were involved in. For example if there were 5 accidents of Volvo cars and 4 of them were fatal and there were 25 accidents of Toyota cars and 7 of them were fatal then the claim that Volvo is the safest car is absurd!

I think these would be enough to prove that the claim cannot be made with the given data.

P.S. No offense to Volvo. I like Volvo!

• Elaine Nov 8, 2010, 2:09 pm

The conclusion that “Volvo is the safest car in the US” cannot be drawn from the fact that “New US government report shows that fewer people die in a Volvo than in any other car brand in America”. The reason is that “fewer” people die in a Volvo does not mean that a smaller percentage of people driving Volvo die. This may just indicate that fewer people drive Volvo than any other car brand in America. Moreover, even if “fewer” here means a smaller percentage, it still doesn’t necessarily mean that Volvo is the safest, because it is not validated that other factors related to the death rate of driving are the same between Volvo and other brands.

• Olly Nov 8, 2010, 2:11 pm

I believe that the argument contains at least two points which are not clearly defined in order to make logical conclusion like that.

The first is “the safest car” – there is no indication what particular safety is mentioned (accidents, any harm to drivers etc) and what criteria may be used to measure it

2nd – “people die in the car” – may be also interpreted in many way (whether a death case will be counted if a driver of Volvo died in hospital after accident). Moreover,number of people’s deaths may be only one of many factors characterizing the safety of a car, so the conclusion made purely on its basis is stretched.

I believe that fact – based approach to stating the argument would include listing of safety criteria and showing superior Volvo rating across the criteria compared to other brands. Probably, such an argument would sound with less inspirational accent to be used as a marketing campaign motto.

• Tim Nov 8, 2010, 2:21 pm

Volvo β The Safest Car in the United States

New US government report shows that fewer people die in a Volvo than in any other car brand in America

This statement is not valid for the following two reasons:

1. Volvo is not the number one selling brand by volume in America, so less people drive Volvos than Toyota, Honda, or GM. Fewer drivers of Volvos = less death compare to other brands.

2. We do not have sufficient data about how the study was conducted. We do not know if external factors (road conditions, weather) was accounted for during the study.

• Eesha Nov 8, 2010, 2:22 pm

The statement is not completely valid as according to the US government study, it is the safest American car brand. It may not be the safest car in the world as other non-American cars may be resulting in fewer deaths.

• Andre Nov 8, 2010, 2:29 pm

The validity of the statement is based on the fact that fewer people die in a Volvo and therefore that makes it the safest car in the U.S. However, there is a falacy in this logic. It assumes that if the government statement is true (fewer people die in a Volvo) then it must be the safest car. The conclusion statement is based on the narrowest of criteria to make it’s overall assertion to the possible exclusion of other safety measurements. In order for the overall statement to be true, there should be other criteria that is used to determine the standard for U.S. auto safety.

• ankur kumar Nov 8, 2010, 2:33 pm

It seems the argument is not valid enough to support the conclusion. The safety of a car can be determined on the survival rate of passenger and driver in case of a collision, accident or a severe crash. The argument does not mention anywhere that the lowest survival rate is in case of accidents. There is a possibility that this survival rate is with respect to passengers getting a stroke while driving and the car may be having a perfect medical emergency kits to save drivers in such instances. But this facility has no effect in determining how safe the car is.

• BK Nov 8, 2010, 2:39 pm

-First off, what is the cause of death that we are talking about? It’s not clear from the statement whether it’s traffic accident or being trapped in the car under the sun in a parking lot or just having a heart attack, for that matter.

If it’s traffic accidents we are talking about, then I would ask the following questions to test the validity of this statement:
-Who prepared the report and what time frame we are looking into and what’s the size of the sample set they had had?
Assuming all above are reasonable then:
-How many Volvos are there (registered) in the US?
(If there is only handful of Volvos and they happen to get involved in minor accidents then I would question the validity)
– What is the typical Volvo driver profile?
(Age, gender, education level, personality (aggressive vs. calm), driving skills and patterns all have direct impact on the severity of an accident involved)
-Where and where are Volvos generally driven?
(Suburban vs. Urban, Highway vs. Sideways, Night vs. Day, Winter vs. Summer…etc all affect the likelihood and intensity of an accident)

• Anon Nov 8, 2010, 2:49 pm

The report suggests that when dividing up the number of people dying in car accidents by car brand, the smallest number belongs to Volvo. Even assuming this is true, it does not necessarily mean that Volvo is the safest car, because of a few possibilities:
1) There might just be fewer Volvos when compared to all other car brands in America
2) Is death the only criteria for safety? What about injuries?
3) The consumers that Volvo attracts might be more “safe” drivers than for other brands, whereas the statement assumes that all car brands have the same customer base.

So, while the conclusion of the ad MIGHT be true, more research still needs to be done to assess its validity. Hence, we do not have enough data to support that conclusion.

• L Nov 8, 2010, 2:51 pm

I will just highlight points to be checked

1) Safety is a function of deaths only?

2) America vs US issue

3) “Fewer people die in a VOLVO”, but what about afterwards (hospital etc) ?

4) “Government” report = Truth/Best report out there?

5) “New”? what about older reports?

6) Car vs Car brand?

7) What about number of people? If all volvo have 4 passengers and all other brands have 2 passengers and in any case only the driver dies then the % of deaths would be skewed.

8) Are all accidents the same? Volvo drivers may be more careful and have less % of serious accidents…

9) i could think of other issues as well but i think 8 are enough to say it is inconclusive…

Basically every word is a trap…

Definitely inconclusive…

• Alexey Nov 8, 2010, 2:53 pm

Volvo β The Safest Car in the United States.
The reason which this statement based on is that fewer people die in Volvo in the US.
The question is what to call safety. If we call safety staying alive after a car accident then Volvo according to the government report is the safest car.
But let’s assume that according to statistic data Volvo get in car accidents much oftener than any other cars. And people who drive Volvo get damages or even severe deseases much oftener. This assumption doesn’t contradict to government report. On the other hand, it would be difficult to call Volvo the safest in this case.

• Surya S Nov 8, 2010, 3:16 pm

We dont have enough information to validate the claim.

1. The supporting argument just refers to US while the claim is for the world
2. # of deaths is one of the indicators of safety but does not include other indicators like # of injuries
3. We dont know if the argument is using comparable crash #s. It can be that absolute # of deaths in Volvo is less because fewer people drive Volvo

• KSK Nov 8, 2010, 3:22 pm

1)Death is not the only criteria for safety. People might be injured.
2)How many people die depends on how many people own a volvo?
3)If people have more than 2 cars then which is used more often?
4)Dempgraphy of people buying volvo… is it a more safety centric and family owned vehicle? Othe manufactures may operate in a different segment
5)Where is the highest distribution of concentration of volvo? Is it more in areas less proned to accidents?
6)Past historical data as compared to now? Is it a repeatable and sustainable figure ?
7)Size of volvo cars segment in US , lesser the number ofcars lesser is the accidents. So fatality per car is an important measurement
8)Cause of death in other car segments? Is it caused by person,car or some other factor?

• C Nov 8, 2010, 3:29 pm

I would look at the following:

1) How is safe being defined for the consumer?
– Aside from fatalities, consumers may consider other factors in determining safety, such as bodily injury

2) Does the study account for Volvo’s market share?
– If Volvo sells fewer cars than its peers, then in absolute, the brand will experience fewer fatalities
– We need to know if this figure is a rate adjusted for Volvo’s market share or an absolute number

3) If the above is accounted for; What period does this report cover?
– If the study only covered a very specific period, limiting the analysis to very old or very recent models, we will not have an accurate understanding of Volvo’s long term safety track record

If:
– we define “safe” as the number of fatalities in an automobile
– and the number of fatalities is a rate adjusted for Volvo’s market share
– and the the study spans a long period of time

Then the claim is valid.

• XYZ Nov 8, 2010, 3:46 pm

To say if Volvo is the safest car in US, we need to have more data – specifically a total number of people involved in all accidents while driving or riding Volvo and a number of people who died during these accidents. Percentage of fatalities among all Volvo accident-involved passengers (+ drivers) would indicate safety of Volvo vehicles.

The same data would be needed for all other car brands in US, only then we can compare safety of car brands.

Total number of people who died during Volvo accidents can be the lowest among US car brands, but if it’s 95% of all Volvo passengers, I wouldn’t call the brand the safest one…

• mc Nov 8, 2010, 3:59 pm

– there are more things that define safety than just dead people (heavy injuries for example) -> maybe there are less people who are going dead in a volvo car but have more heavy injuries!

– Moreover, which people do die in the car (those in the front/back) as volvo is a family car and which percentage

– Moreover, did the survey took all cars of volvo and other car manufactures in account or only those of SUV’s for example (which segement did they use to do the survey?)

• Matthew Rosenberg Nov 8, 2010, 4:22 pm

What are the confounding factors?
-Volvo drivers: are they safer drivers in general (i.e. drawn to this car)
-Where Volvos driven: are they driven in areas where accidents/fatal accidents are less likely (e.g. safe suburban streets as opposed to tough rural roads or inner city areas rife with crime)
-Volvo manufacturer: are the physical specifications of the car safer
-Is the sample size too small to make a comparison?
-Are the types of cars sold among Volvos generally safer than other types of cars and thus this is not a valid comparison?

• sachin Nov 8, 2010, 4:50 pm

Invalid – it could simply be due to lower volvo cars on the road in US or could be that more people are injured (and not dead) in volvos
The statement should be validated by the % of deaths of the total cars on road in US

• Teddy Nov 8, 2010, 4:53 pm

The statement is simply based on the data that least number of people died in Volvo in the US. However, the data is not sufficient to make the statement valid for several reasons.

First, there is no mention of how many people drive Volvo in the US. The reason why least number of people died in Volvo cars in the US could be that there’s only a small percentage of population in the US driving Volvo cars.

Second, there is no mention of what cars Volvo is comparing to in the US. If those people all died in Volvo SUVs, that means Volvo’s SUVs are not safe!

Third, there is no mention of the types of people who drive Volvo in the US. It could be that most people driving Volvo in the US are married. Those drivers are supposedly responsible and have low accident rates.

Based on these three points, the statement cannot be proved valid.

• Aleksey Leshchankin Nov 8, 2010, 4:53 pm

1. We need to understand what does “the safest” mean. If it depends on quantity of fatal cases then the additional information on quantity of road accident with a deadly outcome is necessary to us. Then distribution on marks of cars which have taken part in road accident.

2. It is necessary to specify, about what death cases there is a speech? It is necessary to specify, whether there was a malfunction of the car the fatal case reason. Whether there was a cause of death a hurricane or heart attack or the Boeing has landed on a car roof.

3. Absolutely not clearly what quantitative measurement of the term “fewer”? It is less on two or in twenty times?

Total: the initial data, units of measure, and a calculation technique are not clear

• sasha Nov 8, 2010, 4:55 pm

This statement lacks sufficient evidence to prove or disprove Volvo’s claim as the “Safest Car in America”. Missing pieces of evidence include:
1) There’s no information about how many people are in Volvos in the US, and thus no denominator by which to calculate the frequency of deaths that occur amongst people riding in Volvos over a specific period of time. A frequency measurement – e.g. # deaths/# of passengers for each car make per annum ( where # of passengers = # of cars * avg. #passengers/car) would account differences in numbers of cars of each make on the road.
2) Volvo’s definition of safety is incomplete and not clearly defined. Simply using deaths fails to account for injuries, accidents, recalls, and other “unsafe” criteria. This analysis would be improved if these other safety criteria were included in a tool such as a dashboard or ranking algorithm.
3) Volvo’s statement does not account for other variables beyond car safety features that could increase or decrease accident and death rates for certain auto manufacturers. Controlling for demographic data (customer age/gender, geographic location, traffic congestion, frequency/time spent driving, etc.) is necessary if valid comparisons are to be made .

• Ben Nov 8, 2010, 5:21 pm

The data is not sufficient to make that claim. The number of deaths could be a result of fewer people driving a Volvo, people driving a Volvo are better drivers so less accidents occur or Volvo could be a slower car than others, meaning lower speed so less fatual injuries.

There is a number of ways to justify the claim that Volvo are the safest car in America. Firstly, deaths could be expressed as a percentage of people that drive a Volvo. Secondly, we could add a requirement of speed on the first percentage. For example, % of death of Volvo drivers involved in a crash when the car was travelling at 100-120km/h versus percentage for other brands.

• yk Nov 8, 2010, 6:01 pm

The fact that fewer people die in volvos than any other car in the US is not sufficient to support the assertion that it is the safest car in the US. This is because safety-conscious drivers may be predisposed to buying volvos on account of their excellent reputation for safety. Furthermore, volvos are relatively expensive, so this may favor older, more experienced drivers who are able to afford them.

• amanda Nov 8, 2010, 6:05 pm

It seems too hasty to conclude that the one-liner is true based on the footnote provided. A few areas of concern can be raised:

1) Volvo could be in principle have the fewest number of deaths, if holding constant the probability of fatal accidents occurring, the number of Volvo drivers is less than any other car brand. It would be useful to know the breakdown of drivers by car brand in the US and find the proportion of fatalities instead of comparing absolute numbers.
2) Even if Volvo has the lowest number of deaths by carbrand – it could be that rates of accidents short of fatalities could be a different story. This would also serve as a useful indicator of how safe the Volvo is.
3) Drivers could self select such that it is the driver who is the safe driver and not the car which is safe that results in a low fatality rate. It is possible that safe drivers tend to be richer drivers who drive volvos for example.
4) More details of the US report can be requested in order to find out how statistically significant the figure is. E.g. how big was the sample size measured, how much lower is the Volvo fatality rate.

• daniel trifonov Nov 8, 2010, 6:18 pm

the information given is not enough to justify the statement because:
1. it fails to specify whether ‘fewer’ is meant in absolute or relative terms, e.g
high % of users may die, yet due to little overall penetration of Volvo on the US market that may be a low number.
2. depending on whether ‘died’ is the single criteria for safety

• YC Nov 8, 2010, 6:49 pm

The government report alone is not sufficient to support that the Volvo makes the safest cars in America. Fewer people die doesn’t necessarily mean fewer injuries. Safety issue can be dissected into two categories: preventing accidents from happening and minimizing the impact of accidents when they do happen. The data supports a portion of the latter category but is not sufficient to conclude that the Volvo indeed makes the safest cars in America. This is assuming the report is done comprehensively and comparatively among all car brands. And this assumption may certainly not hold true.

• Dip Nov 8, 2010, 6:53 pm

It cannot be concluded that Volvo is a safe car just from the data provided.
a) we don’t have the market share of Volvo i.e. theoretically, they could have the lowest number of cars in the market and lowest number of accidents (although most of their cars have met with an accident and killed one of the passengers)
b) We don’t have the market segment that Volvo users to belong to. That is, if Volvo users are restricted to middle-aged family persons, then the chances of rash driving is low and hence accident is automatically low.

We don’t have the percentage of Volvo users who met with an accident while driving a volvo automotive . In order to draw a conclusion that needs to be compared with statistics from other brands.

• KA Nov 8, 2010, 6:56 pm

Volvo β The Safest Car in the United States*

The government’s report showing that fewer people die in a Volvo than in any other car brand in the US isn’t sufficient to make a valid claim that Volvo is the safest car in the US.

If fewer people drive a volvo than any other car brand, then in absolute numbers, fewer people will also die while driving a Volvo. What is more relevant is looking at the number of people who die as a proportion of total Volvo drivers. Then, compare this fraction to other brands to test the validity of the claim made in the ad.

Also, the safety of the car isn’t just dependent on how many people survive a car accident (assuming the deaths reported in the governmental report refer to deaths during a car accident). Other features such as air bag quality and break reliability also affect how safe the car is.

• MSL Nov 8, 2010, 7:10 pm

To assess the validity of the statement, I would consider:

1. Checking methodology used in the research:
– Which brands were included (american brands or brands sold in America?)
– Which cars were considered (same category?)
– Total sample and error margin
– Sample profile (was it influenced by any factor somehow?)

2. Other conclusions of the research
– Deaths vs Accidents (Volvo vs other brands)

4. Period: when has the research been run? Was there any influence on sales volume and the period of the research?

• Dmitry Yakovlev Nov 8, 2010, 7:27 pm

There are several arguable assumptions undelying this statement:
– term ‘safest car in US’ is not defined (safe can mean less incidents/brand)
– fewer accidents can happen because there might be fewer Volvo cars
– US goverment might not be a reliable source

• Kobune Nov 8, 2010, 7:44 pm

It’s like a GRE Argument:)
The statement is not valid because of the following reasons:
1) Less death in a Volvo could be due to fewer people owning or driving a Volvo, the total death per Volvo would be a more convincing metric.
2) Even if the total death per Volvo is also the lowest among its peers, it could still be because there are usually less passengers on board (somehow, maybe the habit of the owners) when an accident happens.
3) Less death is not the only aspect of safety. What about severe injury? Is it also less common in Volvos?

• JL Nov 8, 2010, 7:44 pm

Firstly we need to consider the definition of a ‘safe’ car, and whether we accept that number of deaths is a good representation of ‘safe’.

Even if we accept their definition at face value, without the following information it is difficult to assess the validity of this claim:
– How many accidents involve Volvos versus vehicles from other automotive brands: it may be that Volvo drivers are safer rather than the cars themselves.
– How literal is the data quoted from the study: the study may be talking about motorists who perish at the scene of the accident versus later on at hospital. If so, Volvo may be no more effective at preventing fatalities as a result of automobile accidents than any other brands.

• DJCurrySpice Nov 8, 2010, 8:45 pm

There are four main issues I would like to further explore with this statement:
1) What is the definition of the word safety in this context
2) Absolute number of deaths vs percentage of deaths with regard to Volvo brand
3) How did the U.S. government compile/analyze the statistics?
4) What extrapolations is this data implying?

1) Am I to assume that the word safest solely means least number of absolute deaths? While death in a car is a big deal and should not be overlooked, I am weary of assigning the word “safest”, which implies a greater overall protection, to the brand based on one factor of its performance.

2) The glaring data extension here is that the claim is based on total number of deaths. Considering Volvo is a smaller brand in the US market – how can we be sure that the low death total is not due to relative size? Could it be that compared to the overall car market Volvo has a higher percentage of cars that are involved in fatal accidents?

3) I am also slightly weary of the data collection method. I am not saying I don’t trust the government to compile good statistics, but I am wondering how they did it – and whether their numbers reflect something other than the what that statistics imply: fatal car accidents. Could this data actually be of people who die in there sleep while driving a car – or something similarly related but misleading?

4) The data is presented in such a way as to implore the reader to believe that Volvo’s are safe cars – thus buying one decreases your chances of dieing behind the wheel. Considering the bias of self-selection, could it be that people who buy Volvo’s are an older, safer-driving population? Simply put – correlation does not prove causation, and I believe in this case the data is too shallow to prove otherwise.

• Andrew Nov 8, 2010, 10:20 pm

What is “unsafe”?
1. Die:
the New US government report validates this aspect stating that fewer people die in a Volvo than in any other car brand in America

2. Live but with accidents
2.1. Minor accidents
2.2. Major accidents
that report above did not provide any data on accidents, thus not validating this aspect of “safety”

In a related note, what about other variables that contribute to driving safety? Such as drunk driving, and lack of concentration due to operating mobile devices?

These other variables are not validated by the report.

Conclusion: The report’s validity is not adequately proven yet.

• Jin Zhou Nov 8, 2010, 11:42 pm

safest = smallest % of accident in a car

# of people in accident = % of accident in a car * # of cars * # average number of ppl in a car

so smallest # of people in accident can be a result of
(1) low % of accident in a car (which indicates it is indeed the safest car), or
(2) small # of cars in US (which indicates the brand is simply no popular in US), or
(3) small # average number of ppl in a car (which indicates it is the car of the brand are typically design for fewer than other brands),

Given all above, the data is not sufficient.

• Sudeep Cherian Nov 9, 2010, 1:00 am

The first question that I would ask is which government report. Are they a valid government reporting agency? What was their surveying methodology?
When was the survey conducted?
Was the study for a particular car segment? It is possible there are safer cars for segments that don’t compete with Volvos?

Does fewer deaths indicate better safety? It’s possible that less people die, but more are injured with Volvos.

• Sal Ortega Nov 9, 2010, 1:13 am

The conclusion is that Volvo is the safest car in the US, and the assumption is that because there are fewer people driving a Volvo are dying in relation to other brands of cars.

The piece of evidence missing is the actual percentage of people that drive a Volvo and that died in a car accident. The phrase “few people” could mean that there is few people dying in Volvos just because there are fewer Volvo cars in relation to other brands.

Without that piece of information, it is impossible to argue that Volvo is the safest car in the US.

• Australiancandidate Nov 9, 2010, 2:50 am

Volvo β The Safest Car in the United States*

* New US government report shows that fewer people die in a Volvo than in any other car brand in America

Assess validity.

The statement may well be true, but not if the grounds for such a statement are backed up solely by the information to which it is asterixed to.

Just because a New US government report shows that fewer people die in a Volvo than in any other car brand in America does not necessarily mean that Volvo is the safest car in the US. The following additional factors may be at play, and need to be considered for a proper grounding in the statement:

1. There is the classic question of correlation vs causation. Do fewer people die in a Volvo because a Volvo is ‘safe’, or because ‘safe drivers’ (those that are either conservative-minded in their driving and do not, for example, drive while drunk or drive while on the mobile phone or those that are otherwise self-selecting (they may be more experienced drivers for instance)) choose to drive Volvo?

2. What is the proportion of people who drive Volvos that die each year? Perhaps less people die in a Volvo because less people drive Volvos, which
doesn’t necessarily make them ‘safer’.

3. The data used by the US government needs to be scrutinised.
a. What kind of data set was used in the US government report? For instance, was it a broad and rich survey covering many years, or was it a snapshot of a particular year/s?
b. Was the data adjusted to provide for the type of crashes that Volvos were involved in? This comes down to the definition of ‘safe’. One working definition is that, holding everything else equal, in a like-for-like crash scenario, the people in the Volvo will sustain less injury or live. Was that data normalised?

• SSH Nov 9, 2010, 4:58 am

The reasons for occurrence of accidents can be any of the following-
>drunken driving (one of the major reasons)
>negligence whilst driving on part of the driver. negligence could further be due to several psychological reasons.
>not obeying the traffic rules
>malfunctioning in the car (like brakes fail etc.)

now, amongst the aforementioned reasons, the probability that an accident occurs due to the last reason is quite low as compared to other reasons. when was the last time you heard of some demon-entity taking over the driving seat and leaving the driver helplessly pressing brakes with no results?

the US government survey has made this conclusion based on the vehicles and not their owners. because the first three reasons hold the owners of vehicle responsible for an accident.

another significant point to be noted is that whether this survey focused on numbers or proportion. ie. whether the total number of cars involved in the accidents had a lesser portion of Volvo’s or whether the conclusion was made based on the sale of volvo and no. of accidents, ie. the ratio of no. of volvo’s on road to no.of volvo’s involved in accidents. if the conclusion was based on the latter one then Volvo did exploit the opprtunity and did it well. but, if the conclusion was based on the former one then one of its major reasons for not being involved in accidents is its lesser numbers on road as compared to GM or Ford vehicles.

I think that the former one sounds more possible and that might be one of the reasons for Volvo using this survey as an opportunity to showcase its vehicle as safe ones. also, if i am not wrong, as far as i remember, Volvo had its focus on safety from the beginning. This made its statement sound more plausible.

nevertheless, the statement (based on the survey) has little relevance as vehicle malfunctioning is one of the least possible reasons for accidents + the total no. of Volvo ownership is less as compared to other vehicles that might have found their spot on the top list of being accident prone (according to the survey)!

• PS Nov 9, 2010, 4:58 am

We need to have a detailed data to reach this conclusion. I would like to divide the required data in 3 tiers.
1. Total number of cars for each brand in U.S., say 1250 for volvo, 1300 for brand X, 480 for brand Y and so on.
2. How many out of each of them met with an accident, say 200 volvo, 150 X, 75 Y and so on.
3. How many people died for each brand of car that met with an accident, say 50 for volvo, 30 for X, 15 for Y and so on.
Having this kind of data would I be able to say anything definitely.

• Nick Nov 9, 2010, 5:04 am

It is simply not enough to say that fewer people die driving a Volvo than any other brand of vehicle in the USA without reference to the population of that vehicle in the USA.

Volvo, being imported, and perhaps towards the top end of the market in terms of price may have a relatively small population in the USA, thus it would be expected that fewer deaths occur in Volvo even if the safety of the car was identical.

The statement needs to be qualified relative to population.

• tm Nov 9, 2010, 6:47 am

Volvo β The Safest Car in the United States*

* New US government report shows that fewer people die in a Volvo than in any other car brand in America

The research was conducted by the US government, therefore an impartial and trusted source of information. This certainly contributes to the validity of the statement.

However, there is crucial data missing.
Firstly: There is no data regarding the number of Volvo’s in the US, and the number relative to other car brands. If the statement was that proportionally fewer people die in a Volvo then it would be more useful.
Secondly: There is an assumed causality between the brand of the car and the low rate of death. To come to an accurate conclusion you would need to know what kind of people drive Volvo’s and whether they are less accident-prone. If the majority of Volvo drivers are, for example, cautious family men in late middle age then they may have a low risk of death whatever car they are driving.
Thirdly: People avoiding death in Volvo’s does not necessarily make them safe. What about data on people hit and killed by Volvos, or the types of injuries sustained in accidents involving Volvos. There are many outcomes of car accidents that don’t involve death, and modern cars are assessed according to the danger they pose to pedestrians and cyclists as well as driver protection.

• tm Nov 9, 2010, 6:47 am

The research was conducted by the US government, therefore an impartial and trusted source of information. This certainly contributes to the validity of the statement.

However, there is crucial data missing.
Firstly: There is no data regarding the number of Volvo’s in the US, and the number relative to other car brands. If the statement was that proportionally fewer people die in a Volvo then it would be more useful.
Secondly: There is an assumed causality between the brand of the car and the low rate of death. To come to an accurate conclusion you would need to know what kind of people drive Volvo’s and whether they are less accident-prone. If the majority of Volvo drivers are, for example, cautious family men in late middle age then they may have a low risk of death whatever car they are driving.
Thirdly: People avoiding death in Volvo’s does not necessarily make them safe. What about data on people hit and killed by Volvos, or the types of injuries sustained in accidents involving Volvos. There are many outcomes of car accidents that don’t involve death, and modern cars are assessed according to the danger they pose to pedestrians and cyclists as well as driver protection.

• Nick Nov 9, 2010, 9:25 am

This data is insufficient to support the conclusion in two respects. First, it does not tell us the death rate per Volvo driver is the lowest. The number of deaths alone gives us no perspective. Second, it focuses on only one metric in an overall blanket statement of safety. There are certainly other metrics of safety. What is the rate of paralysis? What is the rate of people left in a vegetative state? What is the rate of brake and seat belt failure? Etc.

• Edwin Nov 9, 2010, 9:52 am

The claim that Volvo is the safest car in the United States is seriously flawed. It assumes that automobile safety is judged by the number of deaths which occur while driving the vehicle, and bases its conclusion on an absolute basis rather than a percentage/relative basis. In addition, the claim fails to consider the segment of the population that is purchasing the brand.

Most conspicuously, the statement correlates the safety of a vehicle to the number of deaths of it’s occupants. Consider the case where 9 out of 10 Volvo drivers who were part of an accident lost all of their extremities, and only one of them lost their lives. Contrast that with a case where 8 out of 10 BMW drivers who were part of similar accidents ended up with a minor backache, while 2 of them lost their lives. I think it would be difficult to realistically convince anyone that a Volvo is safer based on that data.

The statement also bases its conclusion on an absolute basis rather than a percentage basis. It is entirely possible that Volvo does not sell a large number of cars, and this results in fewer deaths for the simple fact that not as many people drive them. Using the same two car brands as before, pretend that Volvo sold 10 cars last year and BMW sold 100 cars. Useing the logic presented in the statement, if 3 of the people who bought a Volvo died and 4 of the people who bought a BMW died – with the entire population of both brands being involved in similar accidents – then Volvo would be considered a safer vehicle. This point of view is flawed since, if one looks at the issue from a relative standpoint, 30% of Volvo owners died while only 4% of BMW owners met their demise.

Finally, the statement fails to consider the fact that the people who buy a Volvo may have different driving habits than those who purchase cars from other brands. The typical image of Volvo revolves around safety and this tends to attract an older crowd. It is not unreasonable to assume that the buyers that Volvo attracts have safer driving habits – accounting for the “safety” of the vehicle.

• FA Nov 9, 2010, 10:38 am

This statement is not that much valid because it lacks some more information and data – some details- that are necessary to ensure its validity. Of these I think are:

– The specific name of that US government report that is referred to and its issuance date.

– a graph that shows the number of such accidents for a certain period of time and for a representative number of brands found in the US (including Volvo) or even a pie chart with percentages of people dying in Volvo as compared to others so that they better explain what they mean by “fewer”.

Thank you

• e.o Nov 9, 2010, 12:25 pm

e.o

The data is not too sufficient – for isntance, even though it is a Government survey – was it sponsored by Volvo? Also how reliable/what is the reputation of the Government source that provided the data?
Even if the government source is reputable, it will be a good idea to have a corresponding (non-biased) consumer report which collaborates these claims.

• Darshan Nov 10, 2010, 12:46 am

Need to further get answers to questions such as:

What percentage of cars in the US are Volvo?
What percentage of car accidents involved a Volvo car?
Did Volvo owners driving skills match that of the Average american driver?
Need to know whether they look at accident related deaths or just deaths in cars?

• DT Mar 8, 2011, 6:51 am

@Darshan:

I think they looked at deaths in cars π a very common statistic. π
Good point – but it cracked me up in my interview preparation

• Tom Nov 10, 2010, 2:12 am

To make that statement off that one piece of data is flawed in my opinion.

First,
Who drives Volvo’s? Maybe people who drive them are less likely to have a crash. I would assume Volvo’s would be, a) unappealing to younger people, b) too expensive for younger people, and therefore this demographic of young people who drive cars (which would make up a certain portion of deaths in America) is left out. This means that the statement would be not representative of the whole of America.

Second,
It could be that there are far less Volvo’s in America than other cars (say Toyota’s) and therefore they will have less accidents with deaths. The number of deaths relative to the amount of cars sold would be a good indicator of this.

• Abhinav R Kadiri Nov 10, 2010, 2:20 am

The statement is lacking lot of quantitative and qualitative information on the basis of which making the assumption incorrect.
1. The term “fewer” needs to be quantified. If other cars result in 100 deaths and Volvo results in 98 deaths which is also “fewer” but as a standalone measure of the no. of deaths, 98 is still a significant number.
2. Also, how many allowable deaths constitute safety of a vehicle? Can it be said that having 50 deaths per year for a given vehicle is “safe”? There is no threshold value on the basis of which the claim can be made about safety.
3. There is no data on the nature of the accidents. Having fewer deaths is one thing, but if the fatality of those deaths or the accidents are much more intense as compared to other vehicles, then its a serious consideration on the overall design of the Volvo.
4. Are the nature of the accidents caused by Volvo repeatable or have a common trend or are they due to different factors such as drivers’ carelessness, road conditions etc. If the accidents are attributed mainly due to flaws in the design and operation of the Volvo, it once again puts the Volvo’s design and safety in a spot of bother.

• WA Nov 10, 2010, 5:09 am

Not Enough Data.

– First of all we need to know how many people use/own the volvo cars. e.g. If its only 1% of cars in US then most likely the no. of accidents involving volvo will be few.
– Then we will see the the spread of this Volvo car usage in US. The Volvo car may be used in state(s) where road safety is good and overall number of accidents may be very less.
– We need to know who is driving these cars. Volvo may be driven by experienced or speed conscious drivers who like to drive at normal speed.
– We can also check for what purpose people drive Volvo cars. Intra city or on highways. If they are using Volvo for driving in the city then they may not be going very fast and thus avoiding crashes due to speed

• Jyo Nov 10, 2010, 10:33 am

1) What is the safety feature? What is the degree of safety?
2) Is this “safe” car concept for all Volvo Models? Or just one
3) Is this strategy imitable by competitors? If yes, can the government make this a standard feature for all cars in the U.S.?
4) What is % of Volvo cars on the road compared to the others?

• Grigory Nov 10, 2010, 10:49 am

1) The US government statement reflects the absolute number of deaths of Volvo drivers VS the drivers of other cars. What would be more interesting is comparing the following ratio across all the car brands:
number of deaths of brand X drivers/total number of brand X cars in the US.

2) “Number of deaths” might not be an adequate operationalisation of “Safety”. The number of people who emerged from an accident severely crippled should also be considered.

• gatengi Nov 10, 2010, 11:15 am

– I think its important to first of all know which government department ran these tests, and what their qualifications (statitstical expertise) are to run and inteprete the tests and results
– How big and representative was the test population?
– The other question is what is the repeateability of the results, in other words if the same tests were done during a different season, different location, different demographics etc simultaneously would this assertion still hold.

In all I would say from the information given in the ad the statement cannot be concluded to be valid.

• Dario Minutella Nov 10, 2010, 12:00 pm

To assess properly which car/brand is the safest, we should look at the ratios:

– number of persons who died in a Volvo car/number of Volvo cars in the US
– number of persons who died in a X-branded car/total number of X-branded cars in the US [per each X-brand sold in the country]

• HW Nov 10, 2010, 7:14 pm

I think various of addition information should be included to justify “Volvo β The Safest Car in the United States”.
1) Total Volvo Car on the street compared with other car brands. Less Volve Cars on the street will directly lead to less # of accidents, given all the other factors equal.
2) Average # of people in a Volvo Car compared with other car brands. Less # of people in a Volve Cars on the street will directly lead to less # of death, assuming the same # of accidents.
3) Possibility for a Volve car to get into an accident compared with other car brands, which can be further assesed by three areas:
3a) Average driving habbits of a Volvo driver compared with other car brands. Volvo may attract more senior drivers who behave more as defensive drivers.
3b) Life time of a Volve Car compared with other car brands. Volvo cars may age really fast, so that people only drive relatively new Volve cars, which are safer.
3c) Maintainence cost of a Volve Car compared with other car brands. Volve cars may be easier and cheaper to get maintained, so that they are on average in a better condition than cars in other brand.

Therefore, it is not logically complete to assume that “less # of death” means more safety, since the “# of death” can be affected by many other factors, beyond the safety in car design.

• Jessie Fan Nov 10, 2010, 10:17 pm

1.How many Volve cars in US? If the number is fewer than the number of many other cars, it’s hard to say the Volve car is safer.
2.How many people get injured but not die when driving a Volve car? I mean the definition of “safe” should be clarify. Does it means that fewer people die?

• gh Nov 11, 2010, 5:30 am

Fewer people die in a Volvo does not necessarily mean that Volvo is the safest brand. It is possible that the market share of Volvo is significantly less than other automobiles; this leads to fewer Volvos on roads; hence fewer people die in Volvo.

Also, few other assumptions which significantly affect the validity of the claim are:-
1. The US government report is a reliable source of measuring deaths due to road accidents in the US.
2. The deaths in Volvo and other car brands mentioned in the report, correspond to the deaths caused by accidents arising primarily from vehicle malfunction & not due to incompetent drivers, other vehicles’ mistakes etc.

• Audrey Nov 11, 2010, 5:38 am

This statement is not justified for two reasons:

– The first one would be that maybe fewer people die in a Volvo because the majority of people who die in car accidents are young people, and maybe the young people are not the market targeted by Volvo.

– The second one is that if Volvo sells less cars than other brands, it would be logical that fewer people die in a Volvo

• Martin Nov 11, 2010, 2:38 pm

Not a very valid argument:

– absolute statement and not relative (bring down number of cars to same base)
– VOLVO driver are safer drivers (nothing to do with the car)
– VOLVO sold in areas of less traffic (lower probabilty)
– dying is just one aspect, maybe still more accidents than other car brands

3 Min. over

• Vaibhav Kumar Nov 11, 2010, 4:42 pm

The no of person dying in a Volvo is less compared to other brands not only tells us although Volvo has been involved in lower no of accidents but also says that most of the people buying a volvo are conscious about safety so its the people behind the wheel that makes Volvo safer but not the brand.

There is no significant data to support the Volvo is the safest car in the world

• Pia Nov 15, 2010, 6:15 am

Fewer people die in a Volvo than in any other car in America is not conclusive in proving that Volvo’s are safer. First and foremost, we do not know the number of Volvos driven by Americans. If Volvo is also the rarest car in America, it would not be a great indicator of safety if it also had the lowest death rate. If we knew the number of Volvo’s, we could work out a proportion- how many people die in Volvos over the number of Volvos being driven. And we could compare this to a similar ratio for other cars. This again would not be a perfect metric, as of course, having a Volvo is not indicative of how much it is driven. A more precise metric would incorporate driving time of Volvos. There are also many other imperfections- for example, it could be the case that people believe Volvos are unsafe and drive them less on motorways and more dangerous journeys and thus consequently less people die in Volvos. The cause of death also needs to be known.
In short, there are many factors that would need to be explored to reach conclusions about safety, just knowing the number of people who die in Volvos is definitely not enough.

• duro Nov 15, 2010, 12:03 pm

Invalid argument.
1. Compared the absolute number to the relative figure. Volvo may have only one driver and the only one died. Other brands may have 10000 driver but 2 dies. In this way, other brands are safer.
2. Not guaranteed that the conditions are the same. Maybe Volvo only works on safe roads but other cars work on mountains, etc.

• rp Nov 15, 2010, 10:10 pm

This statement does not have enough data to back it up. A few counter-points

– How many cars does Volvo sell in the U.S? If it is relative to the percentage of cars that they sell, this would be a stronger argument.
– What about people who do not die but get seriously hurt? That would go against the safety aspects of their vehicles.
– It could be also the characteristics of the Volvo customer such as age group, region, male/female etc. that makes a big difference on the driving habits and hence influence statistics on accidents/deaths. That needs to be made available as well before making this argument.

• Candy Chan Nov 17, 2010, 10:52 am

The data provided is not sufficient to support the validity of the statement.
In this case, number of people die in car is used to indicate how safe a car is. We cannot conclude that Volvo is the safest car based on number of people die in cars ONLY. Other data, such as levels of injuries passenagers experience in different types of accidients, are essential for this statement to be valid.

Moreover, we have to have data showing why fewer number of people die in Volvo car, compared with other car brands. Is it because Volvo cars are indeed safer in its design? Or because majority of customers who buy Volvo cars are safe drivers, rather than risky drivers? These information is important to judge if the statement is valid or not. Based on the data given, we don’t really know whether the statement is valid or not.

• Lewis Nov 20, 2010, 9:18 am

Volvo having the lowest number of deaths does not mean its the safest. In the same way it would be important to note the company’s ranking in terms of accident incidence. Safety is defined not by death only as serious injuries is not a desirable statistic

• Diego S Jul 1, 2015, 8:26 am

There are at least three issues with the validity of the argument:
1. The statement says that “fewer people die in a Volvo” and it is therefore considered the safest car in America. The issue is that we need a relative measure in order to determine whether Volvo is safer than other car brands. The low number of accidents could be simply driven by a low number of Volvos being driven om the streets.
2. We need to know more about the drivers, since Volvo drivers could be the safest drivers (i.e., more responsible, less prone to excees speed limits or deive recklessly) and that would not make Volvo the safest car out there.
3. The number of deaths is not representative of how safe a car is. If drivers of Volvos do not die but are severely injured on accidents it would mean that Volvo is not the safest car aftee all.