The European Commission has made a final call to EU countries to implement in-car technology that alerts the emergency services if the car is involved in an accident.
In a document entitled ‘eCall – saving lives through in-vehicle communication technology’, the Commission warns that if there is no significant progress in rolling out the system by the end of 2009 it could propose regulatory measures.
Viviane Reding, EU Commissioner for Information Society and Media, said: “Too many people are still dying on European roads. Every week I hear about road accidents where eCall would have helped. The time has come for member states and industry to move from talk to action.”
Reding added: “I want to see the first eCall cars on the road next year. If the eCall roll-out does not accelerate, the Commission stands ready to set out clear rules obliging governments, industry services to respond.”
The document states that by implementing the eCall system, which automatically dials the emergency services number when a vehicle is involved in a collision and sends its location to the nearest emergency service, could save 2,500 lives every year.
It adds that the technology can halve emergency response time, reduce the severity of injury and save the lives of people who cannot let others know that they have been involved in a crash.
In 2005, the Commission called for the voluntary implementation of eCall systems in cars by 2009.
However, although the technology is ready and EU-wide common standards have been agreed, a number of countries are reluctant to commit because of cost concerns. These include Denmark, France, Ireland, Latvia, Malta and the UK.
Reding said: “At EU level we have done our part of the job. All the relevant core standards for making eCall possible are in place. Europeans should not have to wait any longer for a system that could save their lives just because their governments fail to act.”
The policy document also puts forward a strategy for introducing an affordable in car emergency system in all new vehicles across Europe starting from next year. The proposed measures would ensure that eCall works in all EU countries and in all brands of car.