The European Commission today has urged the UK and a number of other EU countries to implement eCall, an in-car mobile phone service that automatically calls 112 after an accident. eCall then transmits its location to the emergency services.
The system isn’t yet operational in any EU country, although pilot schemes have been run in some countries. 15 EU countries have signed the eCall Memorandum of Understanding (Austria, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Estonia, Finland, Germany, Greece, Italy, Lithuania, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, the Netherlands and Sweden) along with three other European countries (Iceland, Norway and Switzerland). In addition, Belgium, Bulgaria, Hungary, Luxembourg, Romania and Poland say they support eCall and are willing to sign the agreement in due time. However, the UK, France, Denmark, Ireland, Latvia and Malta have said they’re not prepared to commit due to cost concerns.
Implementation would need the full collaboration of the car and telecomms industries, along with the emergency services.
Viviane Reding, the EU Commissioner for Information Society and Media, says eCall can halve emergency response times, could save up to 2,500 lives per year and could reduce the severity of injuries by 10 to 15%. She also warns that regulatory measures could be introduced if there isn’t a voluntary roll-out of eCall across Europe.
[Press release; eCall strategy]