The European Commission has adopted a recommendation urging its member states to ensure their mobile networks are ready for eCall devices. It’s seen as the first legal move towards the mandatory implementation of eCall by 2015.
The EC wants all new cars produced from 2015 to contain an eCall device that’ll automatically call the 112 pan-European emergency number if there’s a serious accident. The in-car eCall device would pass the vehicle's location to the emergency services but wouldn’t track the user’s location until activated.
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 says it’s decided to take legislative action to introduce eCall because voluntary deployment has been insufficient. The UK, along with a number of other countries, has previously expressed concerns about the cost of implementing eCall. EC figures estimate that eCall speeds up the arrival of emergency teams by 40% in urban areas and 50% in rural areas, with the ability to save several hundred lives in Europe every year. Currently, only 0.7 % of all passenger vehicles in the EU are equipped with automatic emergency call systems.