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Plans for cars to call emergency services after a crash
Under EU plans, by 2015 all new cars and light vehicles will automatically call the emergency services in the event of a crash.
Following a review, the European Commission is planning to take the scheme from voluntary to mandatory in Europe.
After a crash, the eCall system will contact European emergency number 112 with the vehicles' exact location, direction of travel (essentially important on motorways and in tunnels) and the time of incident.
It is estimated that the technology will speed up the arrival of emergency teams by an estimated 40% in urban areas and 50% in rural areas. Unconscious or injured people who would otherwise be unable to call will be seen in potentially life-saving time.
eCall works through a sensor that is activated after a serious crash. Once connected to the emergency services, an operator will try and talk to the driver and passengers through a voice connection with the car. If there is no response, emergency services will immediately be deployed. eCall can also be operated manually via a button, for witnesses or passengers for example.
To rule out any potential privacy issues, the system will 'sleep' unless activated by a crash.
The UK has yet to commit to the scheme at this stage because of cost issues. However, several MEPs have backed the scheme and it will be debated over the coming months.
It is estimated that the system will cost less than £80 per car to install and several car companies, including Peugeot and Citroën, have already installed the technology in their 2012 models at no extra cost to consumers.
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