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Digital Agenda: Commission takes first step to ensure life-saving emergency call system for road accidents in place by 2015
The first measure to ensure that by 2015 your car can dial emergency services for you when you have a serious accident has been adopted by the European Commission yesterday. The Commission wants the life-saving eCall system to be fitted to all new models of cars and light vehicles from 2015. eCall automatically dials Europe's single emergency number 112 in the event of a serious accident and communicates the vehicle's location to the emergency services. A Commission Recommendation adopted on 8th September, urges Member States to ensure that mobile phone network operators upgrade their infrastructure so that eCalls are efficiently passed on to emergency services.
Every minute is crucial to save lives and reduce the severity of injuries when emergency services are called to a road accident. Yet people injured in an accident do not always have the reflex or the physical ability to call emergency services immediately. eCall devices address this problem by alerting emergency services immediately even if the driver or passenger is unconscious or otherwise unable to call. The technology speeds up the arrival of emergency teams by an estimated 40% in urban areas and 50% in rural areas. Once widely deployed, eCall will save several hundred lives in Europe every year, and reduce the severity of injuries and trauma in tens of thousands of cases.
Neelie Kroes, Commission Vice-President for the Digital Agenda, said "I am delighted - together with my colleagues responsible for Transport and Industry Vice Presidents Siim Kallas and Antonio Tajani - that we have taken the first step to ensure that millions of citizens will benefit from eCall, a system that can slash the time emergency services need to arrive at road accidents. eCall will save hundreds of lives and reduce the pain and suffering of road accident victims."
The Commission's aim is for a fully functional eCall service to be in place all over the European Union (as well as Croatia, Iceland, Norway and Switzerland) by 2015.
The Recommendation urges every Member State to ensure that mobile operators treat calls from eCall devices like other 112 calls – i.e. give priority to them and do not charge for them. The Recommendation also indicates that Member States should ensure that mobile operators put in place systems to identify eCalls so that they can be routed to an emergency service call centre equipped to handle them.
The Recommendation is due to be followed by the adoption by the Commission of specifications for the upgrade of emergency call response centres (under the Intelligent Transport Systems Directive – 2010/40/EC) and a proposal for a Regulation to require eCall devices meeting the required technical specifications to be fitted to all new models of passenger cars and light vehicles from 2015 in order to obtain EU-wide type approval.
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 centre 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 eCall system is estimated to cost less than €100 per new car to install. To rule out privacy concerns, the eCall system does not allow the tracking of vehicles because it 'sleeps' and does not send any signals until it is activated by a crash.
Currently, only 0.7 % of all passenger vehicles in the EU are equipped with automatic emergency call systems, with numbers barely rising. These proprietary systems do not offer EU-wide interoperability or continuity.
The Commission has decided to take legislative action to introduce eCall because voluntary deployment has been insufficient. The Commission had called for eCall to be rolled out voluntarily across Europe by 2009 (IP/09/1245) but adoption has been very slow.
Vice-President Kroes' presentation of eCall to European Parliament's Transport Committee: see SPEECH/11/557
Commission Recommendation: www.ec.europa.eu/ecall
For more information on eCall:
For more information on the Intelligent Transport Systems Directive and ITS Action Plan:
For more information on Road Safety:
Digital Agenda website:
Neelie Kroes' website: http://ec.europa.eu/commission_2010-2014/kroes/
Follow Neelie Kroes on Twitter: http://twitter.com/neeliekroeseu