EU Parliament Calls for All Cars to Have Emergency Call Devices by 2018

By Ken Briodagh April 30, 2015

In a new resolution, the European parliament on April 28 decreed that all new car and light van models must have built-in automatic emergency call devices by spring 2018.

These emergency call devices automatically alert rescue services to car crashes, and this new legislation makes it mandatory for all EU member countries to comply by March 31, 2018. Part of the impetus behind the resolution was that road accidents killed more than 25,000 people in the EU in 2014, and these automatic call devices could cut that number by as much as 10 percent a year. 

“Deploying the 112-based eCall in-vehicle emergency system across the EU will help to improve road safety in all 28 member states,” said Olga Sehnalová, EU parliament spokesperson. “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 in-vehicle system uses 112 emergency call technology (the European version of 911) to alert emergency services to serious road accidents automatically. With the information relayed about the crash and the vehicles involved, rescue personnel can decide quickly what type and size of operation is needed. That way they can arrive faster, save lives, reduce the severity of injuries and cut the cost of traffic jams.

There will be no vehicle tracking element, in order to protect citizens’ privacy, and in fact under the new rules, the automatic call would give the emergency services only basic minimum data, such as the type of vehicle, the fuel used, time of the accident, exact location and the number of passengers. Any data gathered by emergency centers or service partners cannot be transferred to third parties without explicit consent of the person concerned. Manufacturers will have to guarantee that any data gathered is permanently deleted once it’s no longer needed.

Once the new regulations are in effect for all cars and light vans in 2018, the members of the European Parliament also promised to study the program for three years to determine if eCall devices should be included in vehicles like buses and trucks.

This is a step toward not just safer roads, but automated driving systems that track and control cars remotely. We’ll be watching this program carefully in the years to come. 

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