EU starts deployment of automatic emergency call system in cars

All new passenger vehicle models that hit the EU market after March 31, 2018, will come with eCall as standard

Telematics, Ecall, Emergency call systems, Bosch, Road safety

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In 2015 the Regulation (EU) 2015/758 of the European Parliament and of the Council, which defines type approval requirements for the deployment of the eCall in-vehicle system, based on e 112 emergency call services, came into effect. The installation of this automatic emergency call (eCall) system will be mandatory in all new types of passenger cars and light commercial vehicles from April 2018. The EU expects that eCall will save 2,500 lives each year and reduce the number of serious injuries by 15%.

The eCall in-vehicle system is an emergency system consisting of an in-vehicle device and certain  launching, controlling and implementing devices that are activated either automatically through in-vehicle sensors or manually. Minimal data files are then transmitted via public mobile telephone networks and create an audio channel through the 112 service between the passengers in the vehicle and the emergency call centre.

Olga Sehnalová, a member of the European Parliament who steered the legislation, said: “The eCall system will help to increase the safety of road users by significantly reducing the arrival time of rescue services in the event of a major accident. Unfortunately, the number of deaths on European roads is still unacceptably high. With eCall, emergency services' response time will be reduced by 50% in rural areas and 40% in urban areas, leading to a reduction of fatalities estimated at up to 2,500 saved lives per year. The legislation has made the system based on a public emergency call using the European emergency number 112 and operating across borders.”

Around 25,500 people lost their lives and 135,000 were seriously injured on EU roads in 2016, according to road safety statistics. While this was 2% down on the 2015 figure, the reduction may be too small to ensure that the EU meets its target of halving road fatalities between 2010 and 2020.
 
In 2016, most road fatalities (55%) occurred on rural roads. On average only about 8% happened on motorways and 37% in urban areas. Car occupants account for the largest share of victims (46%). Vulnerable road users such as pedestrians, cyclists and motorcyclists, together account for the same share and are particularly exposed in urban areas.

Dr. Dirk Hoheisel, member of the board of management of Robert Bosch, said: “Connecting cars makes a great deal possible. Through the automatic eCall system, connected vehicles are now going to become lifesavers as well.”  

Hoheisel points out that there are many things to think of in an emergency, and every second matters. However, many people fall into a state of shock following an accident. In an even more terrifying scenario, the people in a vehicle end up unconscious or trapped after an accident, and are unable to call for help themselves. These are precisely the situations in which the automatic eCall system springs to action as an indispensable lifesaver.

"eCall knows exactly where the accident has occurred, regardless if it happens at night on a deserted road or on the freeway, and automatically sends that information to the rescue services. eCall places the emergency call faster than a person could and initiates the lifesaving rescue chain. An SOS button is also installed on the vehicle’s dash, which the vehicle’s occupants can use to manually place the emergency call. In both cases, an audio connection is first established between the vehicle and the local emergency services team to communicate further details about the accident. If the driver does not respond, emergency responders go directly to the scene of the accident. Thanks to precise information about the location based on GPS coordinates, the emergency responders even know in which direction of travel the accident occurred. This saves valuable time, as they do not first have to turn around at the next freeway junction to get to the scene of the accident," Hoheisel explained. 

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