All new cars and vans will have to be fitted with devices that automatically alert rescue services to car crashes by 31 March 2018, the European Parliament has ruled.

It is believed that the devices – named eCall – will cut deaths on the road by ten percent a year. Over 25,000 Europeans were killed in road accidents last year alone, according to latest figures.

Will UK cars still be fitted if it remains in the EU? ©iStock/Wastesoul

The devices, similar to a telemetry box, will call the universal 112 number to alert the emergency services to serious road accidents automatically.

The box will send the type of vehicle, the fuel used, the time of the accident and the exact location and number of passengers to the emergency services so they can assess the scale of the rescue operation before sending out staff.

Dependant on the possible looming EU referendum, UK car manufacturers and their European peers will have to follow a set of rules set out by the Commission regarding installation.

Member states have already been told that the network infrastructure to support and process eCall must be in place by 1 October 2017. Original plans stated that all cars would be fitted with eCall by October of this year. 

Privacy

Members of the European Parliament have focused on creating a telemetry system that does not impact European driver’s privacy rights. The draft eCall legislation has a data protection clause that states only the minimum amount of data will be transmitted to emergency services.

This information cannot be gathered or transferred to third parties without explicit consent of the driver.

Further, manufacturers will have to design eCall with a permanent and full delete button for data.

UK position

The UK’s transport committee has been against eCall since its inception, believing it is a costly project that is unnecessary due to the sophistication of the UK’s emergency service.

Estimating the cost to the UK at £370 million, transport minister Claire Perry said: “The benefit of making eCall mandatory in all new cars does not justify the cost of implementing it…we do not support the measure, because it is not cost-effective for us.”

The transport committee is dormant following the dissolution of parliament in anticipation of the general election. 

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