Emergency call devices that automatically alert rescue services to car crashes will be a mandatory feature in all new cars.
The European Parliament voted to make the eCall emergency call technology a standard feature in all new cars and light vans by 31 March 2018.
The eCall system is already fitted to some mid-range models. It is designed to alert the emergency services to serious road accidents automatically, enabling a faster and more appropriate response.
The European Parliament has repeatedly stressed that reducing deaths and the severity of injuries on the roads is its priority. It estimates the system could reduce road deaths by 10% a year.
Concerns over the misuse of vehicle owners' data have also been addressed. The draft law’s data protection clause forbids tracking eCall-equipped vehicles before accidents occur. The automatic eCall provides only basic data including vehicle type, location and time of incident, number of passengers and the type of fuel used.
Information gathered cannot be passed to third parties without consent and manufacturers have to ensure that data gathered is permanently deleted.
Rules passed in 2014 stipulate that EU member states must have the infrastructure in place to process eCall requests by October 2017.
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