By 2015, all new cars sold in the EU should be able to dial emergency services automatically when they are involved in a serious accident, MEPs in the European Parliament said in a non-binding report jointly adopted by the transport and internal market committees.
Using the technology, a damaged car will make a 112 emergency call (eCall) as soon as its sensors, such as airbags, register a crash.
The system should also be activated manually by pushing a special button in the car.
The car will automatically transmit data about location and time of the crash to the nearest emergency response centre.
The MEPs have decided that member states will have to upgrade their infrastructures so eCalls are efficiently passed on to emergency services.
Currently, only 0.7pc of all passenger vehicles in the EU are equipped with automatic emergency call systems.
The eCall device is estimated to cost less than €100 per new car to install.
According to estimates, the device could save 2,500 lives a year.
A plenary vote on the decision will take place on 3 July and a legislative proposal from the European Commission is expected by the end of 2012.
Whiplash image via Shutterstock
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