Certain safety options, such as automatic emergency call technology (eCall), electronic stability control (ESC) equipment and crash-avoidance systems, could become compulsory in all road vehicles, according to a second 'Intelligent Car' Communication, presented by the Commission at the Intelligent Car Yearly Event 2007 in Versailles, France on 18 September.
The Commission says that eCall could save up to 2,500 lives every year but that too few EU states have yet committed to facilitating the introduction of the technology (12 out of 27 to date).
The idea behind eCall is that, in the event of a serious accident, cars equipped will automatically call the nearest emergency centre using the single European emergency 112, giving basic information about the crash, including the exact location of the accident scene, even when no passenger is able to communicate.
The Commission has announced that it will start negotiations with European, Japanese and Korean carmakers on the voluntary inclusion of the eCall device as a standard option in all new vehicles starting from 2010. But it stresses that if progress is too slow, "new regulatory actions on the implementation of eCall may be envisaged in 2008".
The Commission adds that it will consult stakeholders later this year on the possibility of making electronic stability control equipment, as well as braking assistance and crash-avoidance systems, mandatory in all vehicles as of 2011.
According to the Commission, by reducing the danger of skidding – the principle cause of at least 40% of fatal road accidents – ESC could save 4,000 lives and prevent 100,000 serious accidents every year.
"Availability of ESC in new cars is still low, 40% in EU-25 in 2005, and varies greatly from market to market due to the differing commercial strategies amongst manufacturers and varied support from authorities (85 % in Sweden, 31% in Italy). In Europe the target is to achieve 100% availability of ESC as well for the model year 2012," explains the Commission.
It further adds that it will produce guidelines, by mid-2008, on the possibilities for member states to introduce incentives, including tax schemes, for accelerating the take-up of intelligent vehicle systems, aimed at making vehicles safer, greener and smarter.