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03-07-2012

MEPs say yes to automatic 999 call service for car crashes


All new cars must be fitted by 2015 with eCall devices to alert the rescue services to road crashes automatically, using the 112 public emergency call system, say MEPs in a resolution adopted on Tuesday. This system would enable rescue services to arrive faster, saving lives and reducing injuries, adds the non-binding resolution.

Jim Higgins MEP, Ireland's member of the European Parliament's Transport Committee, welcomed the decision to endorse a resolution on a new automatic emergency system for car owners in the EU.

"ECall should be activated via the existing pan-European emergency number 112, which is more commonly known as 999 in Ireland. This has two advantages: first, in the case of accidents, the severely injured would be given priority, and second, abuse can be prevented by the automatic recall of the rescue coordination centre.

The vehicle transmits the data only when eCall is activated. Until that happens, the system 'sleeps'. No-one can locate the vehicle as long as it is in the dormant state. In addition to the automatic transmission of the signal during a severe accident, eCall can also be manually triggered, for example in the case of a heart attack at the steering wheel "said MEP Higgins.


The resolution regrets delays in the voluntary deployment of eCall to date and the small proportion of cars fitted with it (only 0.4%)  It urges the European Commission to table legislation to make the eCall system mandatory by 2015 . MEPs also call on the Commission to consider extending this system to other vehicles, such as motorcycles, buses, coaches and trucks  in the near future.

Golden hour

The in-vehicle eCall system uses 112 emergency call technology to alert the emergency services automatically to the location of serious road accidents. This should save lives and reduce the severity of injuries by enabling qualified and equipped paramedics to get to the scene within the first "golden hour" of the accident, says the resolution .

The eCall system could save up to 2,500 lives a year and reduce injury severity by 10 to 15%, it adds .

Free of charge

MEPs believe that the public eCall service should be mandatory and available free of charge to all drivers in Europe, irrespective of the make of their vehicles .

Technology is ready

MEPs point out that the necessary technology is available and that common EU-wide standards have been agreed They therefore call on the Commission to table legislation requiring EU member states to upgrade their emergency response service infrastructure so that it can handle eCalls by 2015 .

Data protection

The resolution stresses that the eCall service must not be used to monitor a person's movements or determine his or her location unless that person has been involved in an accident. The main purpose of the system is to improve incident management, the text adds.