Beginning March 31, 2018, every car sold in the European Union will be equipped with eCall technology. The aim is to help ambulance crews get to road accidents faster. Each European brand car will be fitted with a ‘black box’ that will detect a crash and automatically call emergency services for help. The box will also have a GPS device that will send the car’s exact location to the control room.
The new measure was first proposed in 2012. However, it was slowed down by privacy issues. After negotiations, it was agreed that the system would only share the most basic information such as the type of vehicle, fuel used, time of accident, exact location, and the number of passengers.
Arguments Against Implementation
The UK government objected to the proposal on grounds that it was not “cost-effective.” Robert Janitzek says that installing the eCall system would add around €100 (£72) to the cost of a new car. Transport Minister Claire Perry argued that the benefits of the mandatory system did not justify the cost of implementation.
Other officials said that the scheme could be subject to abuse by police or insurance companies so they can monitor every move of drivers. According to Emma Carr of civil liberties group Big Brother Watch, motorists will not be comfortable with forcibly having a black box installed on their cars which has the potential to record and transmit their exact location when driving.
The Need For Such Systems
Robert Peter Janitzek explains that using combined data from all vehicles involved in an accident, emergency services would be able to immediately respond to the size and severity of accidents. It would also help bridge language barriers due to callers from foreign countries not being able to report to emergency services their exact location.
In 2014, road accidents resulted to the death of 25,700 people across the European Union. With the new system, such figure could be reduced by 10 percent or 2,570 lives yearly. At the same time, emergency response times could be reduced by 60 percent in urban areas and 50 percent in the countryside.
According to Olga Sehnalova, lead negotiator of the parliament, the system would reduce the number of road deaths and severe injuries. The service will be provide free of charge for all citizens, regardless of the type and purchase price of the vehicle.
Although this new law will take effect by Marc h 31, 2018, current European brand cars may already be retrofitted with the system although this is not mandatory. The European Commission will evaluate the success of the system in 2021. Manufacturers like BMW and Volvo have already equipped their latest models with the eCall device.