An EU initiative has been put in place which aims to ensure that all new cars built within the European Union are fitted with an eCall tracking and emergency call device by October next year.

The way in which the eCall system works is that if the vehicle has a serious accident or collision anywhere in Europe, the device will automatically call the nearest emergency centre.

If all occupants of the vehicle are unable to speak, the eCall device automatically provides the emergency operator with a set of minimum data including:

  • GPS coordinates
  • Time of the accident
  • Vehicle details such as licence plate number, model, make
  • Number of vehicle occupants

As soon as this information has been received, the operator at the emergency call centre can dispatch the appropriate emergency vehicles and assistance to the exact location of the accident.

The idea behind the initiative is to cut emergency services response times and save lives on the roads.

It has been estimated that by using the eCall system, emergency service response times will be speeded up by 40% in built-up areas and by 50% in more rural locations.

If an ambulance could arrive at the scene of an accident 50% faster, hundreds of lives could be saved, and the severity of injuries suffered by thousands would be reduced.

It has been calculated that the eCall system has the potential to save around 2,500 lives across the European Union every year.

So far in Spain only a limited number of cars, vans and motorbikes have been fitted with eCall equipment, although 17% of new vehicles now have the eCall device installed.

There have been concerns about data protection and vehicle tracking, but as the device usually ‘sleeps’ unless there is an emergency, vehicle tracking will not be possible, and is prohibited.

The EU’s objective is to have all new cars fitted with an eCall system by 2015 and the system running from October that year. This will be possible with coordination from member states, car manufacturers, emergency centres and emergency operators.

It will cost about 100 euro to fit one device into each car – not much when you think of how many lives can be saved.

Source: www.ocu.org, ec.europa.eu

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