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European cars to get emergency eCall alert system by 2015

New legislation requires all new vehicles to be equipped with a system that automatically calls emergency services in a serious accident.
Written by Liam Tung, Contributing Writer on

New European draft legislation seeks to force all new passenger and light vehicles to be fitted with equipment that automatically calls Europe's 112 emergency number in the event of a serious accident.

The proposed legislation requires that all new vehicles sold on the European market after October 2015 be equipped with eCall, a platform estimated to cost about €100 (£85) which places a call to 112 in the event of a serious accident.

The system would rely on public mobile networks to establish an open audio line with emergency services and transmit the vehicle type and its location. Since the call should only be made in the event of a serious accident, eCall is envisaged to rely on in-vehicle sensors to determine when to trigger the call, or it could be manually activated by a person on the scene.

The proposed legislation covers requirements to make new vehicles and public mobile networks fit for a Europe-wide compatible, interoperable and continuous eCall service.

The European Commission had previously called for a voluntary roll out of eCall by 2009 but is now considering the legislation because adoption has been too slow.

It is estimated that once fully deployed, the system could save 2,500 lives per year and speed up response times by 40 percent in urban areas and 50 percent in the countryside.

The system is also being positioned as a boon for tech companies that will supply components for the eCall system, including in-vehicle systems, wireless data delivery, and public safety answering point systems.

The commission also believes additional services such as advanced insurance schemes and stolen vehicle tracking could be added on top of the eCall platform, given its positioning, processing and communication capabilities.

According to the commission, eCall could not be used for tracking a vehicle since it would only be active once an accident occurs. Also, as a "dormant" system that is not always connected to networks, hackers pose little threat.

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