To help mitigate the consequences of serious road accidents across the EU, on Thursday the European Commission adopted two proposals to ensure that, by October 2015, cars will automatically call emergency services in case of a serious crash. The "eCall" system automatically dials 112 - Europe's single emergency number - in the event of a serious accident. It communicates the vehicle's location to emergency services, even if the driver is unconscious or unable to make a phone call. It is estimated that it could save up to 2500 lives a year, the European Commission said in a press release.
This draft legislation will ensure that from October 2015, all new models of passenger cars and light duty vehicles would be fitted with 112 eCall and the necessary infrastructure would be created for the proper receipt and handling of eCalls in emergency call response centers - ensuring the compatibility, interoperability and continuity of the EU-wide eCall service.
European Transport Commissioner Siim Kallas said the proposals are a milestone for safer roads in the EU. Last year, 28 000 persons were killed and 1.5 million were injured on EU roads. "When an accident happens, every minute counts to rescue injured victims. The eCall technology has great potential to save lives in shortening dramatically the time of intervention of emergency services and this across the EU."
The data received through the eCall system will allow emergency services to provide assistance to vehicle drivers and passengers more quickly, thus helping to save lives and to treat injuries rapidly. Estimates suggest that 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.
In addition to the road safety benefits, eCall will also have a significant impact on reducing the congestion caused by traffic accidents and on reducing secondary accidents caused by unsecured accident sites. Industry also benefits via the many companies that are involved in the delivery of technologies, components and services used in different aspects of eCall including in-vehicle systems, wireless data delivery, and public safety answering point systems. Moreover, it is expected that the in-vehicle equipment introduced by eCall could be used for additional added value services (such as the tracking of stolen cars).
ECall is activated automatically as soon as in-vehicle sensors detect a serious crash. Once set off, the system dials the European emergency number 112, establishes a telephone link to the appropriate emergency call center and sends details of the accident to the rescue services, including the time of incident, the accurate position of the crashed vehicle and the direction of travel (most important on motorways and in tunnels). An eCall can also be triggered manually by pushing a button in the car, for example by a witness to a serious accident.
The Commission is proposing two pieces of legislation to help create and implement the system: A Regulation concerning type-approval requirements for the deployment of the eCall system -- making the vehicle fit for eCall; and A Decision on the deployment of the interoperable EU-wide eCall - making the public infrastructure fit for eCall.
The Commission had previously called for eCall to be rolled out voluntarily across Europe by 2009 (IP/09/1245), but adoption was too slow.
Once the proposals are approved by the European Council and Parliament, the Commission is aiming to have a fully functional eCall service in place throughout the EU as well as Iceland, Norway and Switzerland by 2015.
by RTT Staff Writer
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