Automatic Emergency Call (eCall), the European Commission-backed system for sending an automatic message from a vehicle to an emergency call centre in the event of a crash, is to be standard on all new car and van model from 31st March, 2018.
MEPs have voted on the measure which will use the 112 number - it defaults to 999 in the UK - to call emergency services automatically, enabling them to reach crash scenes faster and thus save lives and reduce the severity of injuries.
The European Commission says it will establish rules to ensure that eCall works only as safety device. It will be illegal to use it to track a driver’s movements or to misuse location data, which must be sent only to the emergency services.
Under the agreed deal, the automatic call will give the emergency services only basic minimum data such as the class of vehicle, the type of fuel used, the time of the accident and the exact location.
Vehicle manufacturers will have to ensure that the eCall technology design permits full and permanent deletion of data gathered. Clear information about the processing of eCall data will also have to be included in the car owner’s manual and available online.
Some vehicle manufacturers are already offering eCall-type services to drivers through private call centres.
The European Commission will now assess whether eCall should be extended to other vehicles, such as buses, coaches or trucks.