RAC Cars News


E-Call To Become Compulsory By 2018

By raccars Published

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On Tuesday this week, the EU confirmed controversial legislation to make it mandatory to fit e-Call tracking devices into all new cars, which can automatically alert the emergency services if an accident occurs. By law, all cars and small vans will contain the devices from 2018.

In the event of a serious collision, the nearest emergency centre will be automatically notified of the location of a vehicle, the time of the collision, its direction of travel and the seriousness of the impact, including airbag deployment information - even if no-one in the vehicle calls for help. There will also be a button in the car's cabin which drivers can press to report an accident when they don't know their location.

It is hoped that the technology will help to cut emergency service response times by up to 60% in urban areas and up to 50% in the countryside. The EU believes that 2,500 lives could be saved every year and thousands of injuries made less severe, if ambulances, police and fire services can reach the scene of an accident more quickly.

Critics of the scheme are concerned about privacy issues, suggesting that the technology could allow information about driver movements and habits being made available to insurers, commercial enterprises and criminal hackers. However, the European Commission claims that the fears are unfounded as the device would not be active, except in the event of a serious accident and data would not be shared without consent.

British Government ministers are also worried that the cost of the technology could be prohibitive and outweigh the potential benefits. The UK already boasts much faster emergency service response times than more remote areas of Europe. Transport minister, Robert Goodwill, claims that only 1% of road deaths would be avoided with e-Call.

The European Commission has predicted a cost of about £72 for each car to install the technology. The Department for Transport conducted research showing a total cost of between £320 million and £445 million by 2033, by which point e-Call could prevent 747 road deaths annually. In financial terms, the reduced rate of death would not cover the cost of using e-Call.

Some models of Volvo, BMW and Citroen already fit e-Call as standard, which works Europewide by using the 112 emergency number, which automatically diverts to 999 in the UK.

The European Commission is also considering making e-Call compulsory for all new coaches, buses and trucks in 2021 and expects the system to be fitted in nearly every car using European roads by 2033.

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