By October 2015, new models of European cars and light duty vehicles will be fitted with the eCall system, which will automatically call emergency services in case of a serious crash, the European Commission announced on 13 June.
When in-vehicle sensors detect a serious accident, the eCall system automatically dials Europe's single emergency number 112, establishes a telephone link to the appropriate emergency call centre and sends details of the accident to the rescue services.
Information received by emergency services include time of incident, the accurate position of the crashed vehicle and the direction of travel. Besides, the system can be used manually by pushing a button, for example by witnesses.
According to the Commission, eCall could speed up emergency response times by 40% in urban areas and 50% in the countryside, and save up to 2500 lives a year.
Around 28,000 persons were killed and 1.5 million were injured on EU roads last year. “ The eCall technology has great potential to save lives in shortening dramatically the time of intervention of emergency services and this across the EU,” said European Commission Vice-President Siim Kallas, responsible for Transport.
The new system will also reduce the congestion caused by traffic accidents and secondary accidents caused by unsecured accident sites.
“EU citizens can be reassured by this time and life-saving system which will help prevent loss of lives and injuries on our roads”, stated Antonio Tajani, Commissioner for Industry and Entrepreneurship, who added that “it is also an important step forward to make our vehicles more intelligent and enhance our competitiveness.”
It is expected that the equipment introduced by eCall could be used for additional added value services, such as the tracking of stolen cars. However, the European Parliament pointed out last year that it cannot be used to monitor a person’s movements or determine his or her location unless that person has been involved in an accident.
The mobile sector association GSMA welcomed the irritative and its Chief Marketing Officer, Michael O’Hara, stated that “a critical next step is for Member States to provide mobile operators with routing information within a reasonable time period. This will allow operators to put the necessary processes in place to ensure eCall messages connect with the correct emergency call centre and local services.”
After proposals' approval by the Council and the Parliament, the Commission will expand the service across the EU, as well as Iceland, Norway and Switzerland.