The European Parliament has passed regulations requiring all new cars and vans to be equipped with devices for automated emergency calls by 31 March 2018.
The eCall system, which automatically dials the 112 emergency number if the vehicle is involved in an accident, was designed to improve the outcome of dangerous crashes by securing timely help.
The new ruling, passed on Tuesday, specify requirements for car manufacturers selling their vehicles across the EU. Requirements for EU member states responsible for providing infrastructure for the system were already approved and entered in to force in June 2014, with the deadline for the technology to be prepared by October 2017.
"Deploying the 112-based eCall in-vehicle emergency system across the EU will help to improve road safety in all 28 member states,” said the European Parliament rapporteur Olga Sehnalová. “The European Parliament has repeatedly stressed that reducing deaths and the severity of injuries on the roads is its priority. eCall as a public service, free of charge for all citizens, irrespective of the type of vehicle or its purchase price, will contribute to this common goal."
The eCall would not only alert the rescue services to the accident but would also allow them to assess the severity of the situation ahead of dispatching rescue teams. The system’s proponents hope that adequate help would be available more quickly, not only improving the outcome of the accidents but also reducing the ensuing traffic jams.
The EU estimates that eCall could reduce the death toll of road accidents across the continent by up to 10 per cent. In 2014 alone, 25,700 were killed in car crashes across the EU.
As part of the new guidelines, the European Parliament provided framework for handling eCall data. Tracking of eCall equipped vehicles will be prohibited in normal circumstances, while only basic information would be sent over to the emergency centre in the case of an accident. The transmitted data will include the type of the vehicle involved, the fuel it’s using, the exact time and location of the accident and the number of passengers.
Data gathered by eCall emergency centres or their service partners must not be transferred to third parties without explicit consent of the person concerned. Manufacturers will also have to ensure that the eCall technology design permits full and permanent deletion of data gathered.
Following a three-year trial period involving personal cars and light vans, the European Commission will review the results to decide whether the devices should also be fitted into other types of vehicles such as buses, coaches or trucks.
Read E&T's feature discussing the eCall system