I recently went for a drive around Dingle in Kerry and ended up driving the route that Top Gear drove, including the breathtaking Conor Pass. When you drive routes like that you can’t help but bask in the remoteness of where you are. You also can’t settle in your seat too long as narrow roads make you feel like your only ever a moment away from crashing. What happens if you crash on a rural road? eCall is an EU initiative set to tackle just such a scenario.

What is eCall?

Back in 1999, the first sight of eCall technology was being presented but come April 2018 it will be a new normal in Europe. All new cars sold after April 2018 must be fitted with eCall technology, a technology that will automatically call emergency services in the event of an accident. The system can be manually activated in the car with a button or, should the driver be unable to make the call, the car can automatically pass on information through the European emergency number 112.

eCall will inform the emergency services of:

  • Whether it was an automatic or manual alert
  • Number plate of your car
  • Car and engine type
  • Time of message
  • Car direction
  • Current and previous positions
  • Number of passengers

The system can also be used if, when driving your own car, you witness an accident, allowing you to provide detailed information to emergency services.

What’s the Benefit of eCall?

Like the example I opened with, the idea behind eCall is to reduce the time it takes for emergency services to attend the scene of a car crash. The EU has stated that the response times could be reduced by 60% in urban areas and 50% in rural areas. It’s believed this reduction in response time will save hundreds of lives every year in the EU and reduce the severity of injuries for thousands more.

Can Additional Services Be Added?

eCall is for emergencies only and right now, doesn’t look like it will be used to offer additional services like breakdown assist or in-car WiFi. You can sign up for third-party services like Opel’s On-Star to get stuff like that in your motor.

Can the eCar System Find Stolen Cars?

The early suggestions of an eCall system were flagged for data protection reasons. Many feared that the system could lead to cars being tracked and monitored. The EU has addressed these concerns directly and rigorously tested the system to ensure it remains dormant until activated or an accident takes place. With this in mind, it’s unlikely the system can even be used to locate stolen cars as this would undermine steps taken to protect the owner’s privacy.

What Cars Come With eCall?

From April 2018 all new cars sold within the EU must be fitted with the eCall system. Older cars are not required to be retrofitted with the system and the EU expects all cars on the road to have the system by 2035 – thought that’s unlikely considering our tendency to enjoy the odd classic car.

What do you think of this eCall system? Considering there’s no avoiding it are you worried about your privacy? Maybe you think it would be better if you could easily add extra services and find your car if it was nicked? Will you just be really tempted to press the emergency button to give out about people? Let us know in the comments.

 

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