All EU cars to be fitted with eCall emergency comm system from 2018

5 Dec 2014

To improve safety and response time for emergency services to a car accident, all cars sold in Europe will be fitted with an eCall communication system from 31 March 2018.

As part of the system, when a car and driver are involved in an accident, the car will register that an accident has taken place and will automatically call the 112 European emergency services number and relay the GPS location and crash information, but the European Parliament, which approved the plan, has said the driver will not be tracked continuously.

According to their announcement, MEPs have ensured data protection laws apply to the eCall system, as a person’s location and information will not be distributed illegally and in the event of an emergency, the eCall system will only give basic minimum data, such as the class of vehicle, the type of fuel used, the time of the accident, and the exact location.

The draft law passed by the MEPs also included assurances that data gathered by emergency centres or their service partners must not be transferred to third parties without explicit consent of the person concerned, ie, the ‘data subject’.

All new cars and light commercial vehicles sold in the European Union, regardless of price or model, must have the system installed by 31 March 2018.

The European Commission (EC) is currently debating whether to roll out the eCall system further to other vehicles, such as buses, coaches and trucks.

For car manufacturers who already provide a service similar to eCall through private means, the EC-backed system, as part of this new arrangement, will facilitate the co-existence between the two systems (public eCall and eCall-supported third-party services (TPS)), provided that 112-based eCall is always automatically available should TPS fail to work and that vehicle owners may choose public eCall services rather than private ones at any time.

Car crash image via Shutterstock

Colm Gorey was a senior journalist with Silicon Republic