EU rolls out eCall for cars

Following delays due to privacy concerns, the EU Parliament has today voted through an EU-wide emergency alert system – eCall. According to the EU Parliament press office:

Emergency call devices that automatically alert rescue services to car crashes (eCall) will have to be fitted to all new models of cars and light vans by 31 March 2018 under rules voted by European Parliament on Tuesday. Road accidents took 25,700 lives in the EU in 2014 – a death toll that the new devices could cut by an estimated 10% a year.

According to rapporteur Olga Sehnalová (S&D, CZ):

“Deploying the 112-based eCall in-vehicle emergency system across the EU will help to improve road safety in all 28 member states. The European Parliament has repeatedly stressed that reducing deaths and the severity of injuries on the roads is its priority. eCall as a public service, free of charge for all citizens, irrespective of the type of vehicle or its purchase price, will contribute to this common goal”.


How e-call works (click to enlarge)

The eCall in-vehicle system uses 112 emergency call technology to alert the emergency services to serious road accidents automatically. This enables them to decide immediately on the type and size of rescue operation needed, which in turn helps them to arrive faster, save lives, reduce the severity of injuries and cut the cost of traffic jams.

Privacy concerns beset the project from the very beginning but following negotiations between MEPs and EU governments it was agreed that eCall would provide only basic data such as:

  • type of vehicle
  • fuel used
  • time of accident
  • location

The European Commission has gone to some lengths to allay privacy fears and says that:

“The public Pan European 112 eCall In-Vehicle System (IVS) remains dormant (that means not connected to the mobile phone networks) until a serious accident happens, therefore no tracking or transmission of data takes place during the normal operation of the system.”

Installation of the device is likely to add about €100 to the cost of a new car according to figures supplied by the EU Commission.

Not for bikes… yet.

All new models of passenger cars and light commercial vehicles will have to be equipped with the eCall system as of 31 March 2018. MEPs also secured an obligation for the European Commission to assess, in the three years after spring 2018, whether eCall devices should be included in other vehicles, such as buses, coaches or trucks.

Consideration has also been given to motorcycles, however there remain a number of difficult technical challenges with regard to the possible implementation of an eCall module on a motorcycle, not least the fact that the sensors commonly fitted to cars to detect a crash and deploy air bags and safety restraints are not usually fitted to motorcycles.

MAG Ireland continues to monitor the implementation of technologies such as eCall and Intelligent Transport Systems at the EU level through our membership of FEMA, the Federation of European Motorcyclists’ Associations.

eCall implementation

eCall implementation