Cars now to be able to call emergency services after a crash

Cars on motorway

The European Union has ruled that all new cars from 31st March 2018 should be fitted with technology to enable emergency services to be called if the vehicle is involved in a road traffic accident.

The technology is called ‘eCall’ and in the event of a serious road accident the system automatically calls local emergency services and alerts them to the accident. A serious accident is one identified by onboard sensors, such as if the airbags deploy or the seatbelt pre-tensioners trigger.  

After a road accident, injured parties can often be dazed or even unconscious and the local emergency number may not come readily to mind. With this new technology, this is no longer an issue.

Another major benefit is that it is able to relay the exact location of the vehicle along with the time of the accident and direction they were travelling in, even in instances where the driver and passengers are unable to provide this information, meaning if the call operator is unable to obtain a response from the car, emergency services ought to be automatically deployed to the car’s location.            

Some manufactures already offer the service, with varying degrees of information relayed to the emergency services. For example, depending on the car, it is possible for the emergency services to be notified before arrival on the scene of:

  • how many people are in the car (based on the number of locked seatbelts) 
  • whether any attempt has been made to remove a seatbelt or open a door (giving a preliminary indication of the number and severity of injuries). 

Some cars can also identify the native language of the car (based on choice of language for the sat-nav) and route the call accordingly, ensuring the emergency conversation can be conducted in the language of those within the car. 

All of this means emergency services can respond quicker and armed with more information, leading to a fall in fatalities on the road. Olga Selnalova, member of European Parliament and who was in charge of the legislation, said she hoped that it will reduce response time by 50% in rural areas and 40% in urban areas.

This is another move forward for road safety. Other ‘active safety’ technology is already in place to prevent accidents from happening in the first place, such as reverse parking sensors and automatic emergency braking (AEB) technology.

eCall technology could mean the difference between life and death, particularly in remote areas and in very serious accidents where victims cannot call emergency services themselves. At Digby Brown, we understand the very real consequences of accidents on our roads and welcome any measures which could reduce injury and fatalities on the road.