“The Commission has had a road safety strategy since 2003, and they have always said that there should be some kind of equal system in the member states, and it has not happened until now. So the European Parliament wants to push the Commission to represent a legislative proposal on this and then to have the member states to implement it,” Parliament spokesman Gediminas Vilkas told EurActiv after the vote on Tuesday (19 June).
The aim of the in-vehicle eCall system (based on the 112 emergency call platform) is to ensure that the rescue services are alerted automatically to serious road accidents. This should save lives and reduce the severity of injuries as qualified and equipped assistance would get to the scene of the accident earlier; the to the ‘golden hour’ principle.
According to estimates, the eCall system would save up to 2,500 lives a year and reduce the severity of injuries by 10% to 15%. In 2009 around 35,000 people were killed and more than 1.5 million injured in about 1.15 million traffic accidents on roads in the European Union.
“ECall could save lives with relatively little effort,” transport committee member Dieter-Lebrecht Koch (European People’s Party, Germany) said in a statement.
He gave a recent example of a road accident in Germany that was only spotted later, in a routine patrol by emergency services.
“That is a strong message in support of eCalls,” he said.
“I am delighted that MEPs have supported the early, mandatory introduction of eCall. We cannot afford to wait any longer,” Jacob Bangsgaard, director-general at FIA Region I, said in a statement.
Not just for luxury cars
Even though the necessary technology is ready, only a small proportion of cars in the EU (0.4%) are fitted with the system.
“A number of projects have clearly demonstrated that providing an open platform for eCall is technically feasible in a secure way,” Bangsgaard said.
“The system’s deployment in all new vehicles should offer European motorists the opportunity to choose additional services if they so wish, including breakdown assistance, traffic information, stolen vehicle tracking and pay-as-you-go insurance schemes,” he added.
Vilkas said that while the eCall system is voluntary for EU member state at the moment, it’s much more usual in luxury cars, such as Alfa Romeo, Porsche and BMW that are already provide the service. At the moment if there’s a serious accident, the BMW will send a message to the private call centre and then send a signal to a public emergency centre.
According to a working paper by the Commission, the price for an eCall system in each vehicle in the EU could end up between €50-€300, but the price on the technology diminishes each year, Vilkas added.