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EU mandates emergency call devices in cars by 2018

Emergency call devices that automatically alert rescue services to car crashes will be mandatory in all new cars and light commercial vehicles in the European Union by March 2018.

Road accidents killed 25,700 people in the EU in 2014, and the organisation believes that the requirements for all new cars and light vans to be fitted with ‘eCall’ technology could cut the death toll by up to 10 per cent (2570 lives) per year.

In-vehicle eCall systems use emergency call technology to automatically alert 112 (000 in Australia) emergency services to serious road accidents. The instant calling function allows emergency service operators to decide immediately on the type and size of rescue operation needed, helping them to arrive on the scene faster, save lives, reduce the severity of injuries and cut the cost of traffic jams.

“Deploying the 112-based eCall in-vehicle emergency system across the EU will help to improve road safety in all 28 member states,” said EU rapporteur Olga Sehnalova.

“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.”

BMW-Assist

Attempting to address privacy concerns, the draft law’s data protection clause has been strengthened to prevent tracking of eCall-equipped vehicles. Under the new rules, the automatic call would give emergency services only basic data, such as the type of vehicle, the fuel used, the time of the accident, the exact location and the number of passengers.

eCell data gathered by emergency centres will not be transferred to third parties without explicit consent of the vehicle owner. Manufacturers will also be required to ensure that their eCall systems permit full and permanent deletion of data gathered.

All new models of passenger cars and light commercial vehicles sold in the EU will have to be equipped with eCall by March 31, 2018. The European Commission will also assess whether other vehicles such as buses and trucks should also be required to come standard with eCall technology.

While no similar mandate exists in Australia, it’s likely we will benefit from the new law, as many car makers are expected to take the opportunity to offer eCall in markets outside the EU from 2018.

The locally made Ford Falcon and Territory incorporate automatic emergency call devices as part of their Sync 2 connectivity systems. A number of other vehicles available in local showrooms also feature eCall technology.