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In-vehicle emergency call system "eCall" (Second eSafety Communication)

eCall is a pan-European in-vehicle emergency call system which uses the European emergency number 112 in the event of an accident. In this Communication, the Commission urges the national and regional authorities to undertake the necessary actions and investments to operate "eCall".
The aim is to roll out the system completely in 2009.

ACT

Commission Communication of 14 September 2005: The Second eSafety Communication - "Bringing eCall to Citizens" [COM(2005) 431 final - Not published in the Official Journal].

SUMMARY

HOW eCALL WORKS

In the event of an accident, the on-board eCall device transmits an emergency call to the most appropriate public service answering point (PSAP) along with certain vehicle-related data (notably the vehicle's precise location).

The system is based on the use of the single European emergency number 112 *, which will allow its interoperability throughout the European Union (EU).

The emergency call can be triggered either manually by the occupants of the vehicle or automatically, in the event of a serious accident, thanks to sensors installed in the vehicle.

Advantages of the system

The main advantage of the system is that it provides the emergency services with instant information about the precise location of the accident, thereby reducing their response time considerably. Studies show that the emergency response time could be reduced by about 50% in rural areas and 40% in urban areas.

It is estimated that the eCall system could save up to 2 500 lives a year in the EU and, in particular, could significantly reduce the severity of the injuries sustained in 15% of cases.

Thanks to the reduction in emergency response times, the system will also ensure a corresponding reduction in the number of traffic jams attributable to road accidents.

Cost-benefit ratio

To ensure the proper functioning of eCall, the answering point services will need to be modernised to enable them to handle the automatic data transmitted by the vehicles; this will require significant investment.

The annual costs associated with introducing the system are estimated at 4.55 billion a year and relate specifically to the costs of installing the system in vehicles and modernising the public service answering points. Nevertheless, all the estimates indicate that the eCall system will have a very favourable cost-benefit ratio. Thus, it is estimated that the system would result in annual savings of about 26 billion (savings on accident and congestion costs).

ROAD MAP

The interested parties have agreed on a road map for the roll-out of the eCall system. The major milestones are the following:

  • by the end of 2006: agreement on a roll-out plan, a business model and standards for the eCall system;
  • mid-2006: complete eCall system specification and launch of the development phase;
  • 2007: field tests;
  • by the end of 2007: fitting-out and modernisation of the public service answering points to enable them to handle the location information supplied by the system;
  • from September 2009: introduction of the eCall system as standard equipment in all vehicles placed on the market.

ACTION TO BE UNDERTAKEN

The effective roll-out of the eCall system will require the full commitment of the Member States. Furthermore, all the parties concerned will need to join forces with the aim of promoting the system in national and international bodies.

Action by Member States

To ensure the implementation of eCall within the planned timescale, Member States are requested to:

  • sign the eCall Memorandum of Understanding;
  • promote more actively the use of the single European emergency number (112) and take steps to speed up the introduction of location information;
  • modernise their public service answering points, which are responsible for dealing with E112 * calls and eCalls;
  • improve their entire network of emergency services, pay attention to PSAP staff training and ensure that multilingual support is provided.

Promotion of the eCall system in national and international bodies

In order to promote the eCall system, the Commission recommends, in particular, that the following measures be taken:

  • in the case of the Member States: creation of national platforms requiring the involvement of the Ministries concerned, the authorities responsible for the emergency services, the industry as a whole and the private service providers;
  • for all the parties concerned: support for the work of the eCall Driving Group * and use of this forum to resolve any outstanding problems associated with the launching of the eCall system by 2009;
  • in the case of the European Telecommunications Standards Institute (ETSI): speeding up of standardisation of the eCall system.

Meetings at eSafety forum * level will also allow all parties concerned to monitor progress made in the launch of the eCall system and to take other measures if necessary.

Background

The large-scale roll-out of eCall is a priority goal of the eSafety initiative. Indeed, the 1st eSafety Communication advocated the creation of a harmonised pan-European emergency call system to be installed in all vehicles.

The eSafety initiative was launched by the European Commission in 2002. It brings together the EU and Member State public authorities as well as the private sector with the aim of promoting action designed to improve road safety in Europe.

eSafety is a component of the EU's i2010 strategy designed to encourage the development of the digital economy in Europe. It also continues to build on the foundations laid in the 2001 White Paper on transport policy challenges between now and 2010 which seeks, among other things, to reduce by half the number of road fatalities by 2010.

Key terms used in the act
  • Single European emergency number 112: number introduced in 1991 to enable citizens to call the emergency services, from a fixed or mobile phone, throughout the European Union.
  • E112 calls: calls made to the 112 number and containing location information.
  • eCall Driving Group: group set up to develop an architecture and a business model for the eCall system and to define the roles of the interested parties, whether public or private (Member States, Commission, telecommunications operators, PSAP operators, vehicle manufacturers, equipment suppliers, motorway operators, automobile clubs, insurance industry and service providers).
  • eSafety Forum: Working Group set up in 2002 consisting of some 40 experts. The Group makes recommendations aimed at improving road safety based on the development and deployment of intelligent integrated safety systems.

RELATED ACTS

NEW eCALL INITIATIVES

Commission Communication of 23 November 2006 - Bringing eCall back on track - Action Plan [COM(2006) 723 final - Not published in the Official Journal].

With this communication the Commission intends to relaunch the initiatives for rolling out the eCall system, which have reached deadlock in some Member States. The document sets out the measures required to resolve the situation and bring eCall back on track so that it can be rolled out by 2010. The Commission proposes two parallel lines of action:

  • commitment of the Member States by mid-2007, and
  • negotiation of an agreement with the industry by the end of 2007.

eSAFETY COMMUNICATIONS

Third eSafety Communication: Commission Communication of 15 February 2006 on the "Intelligent Car" initiative - "Raising awareness of information and communications technologies (ICTs) for smarter, safer and cleaner vehicles" [COM(2006) 59 final - Not published in the Official Journal].

The Third eSafety Communication follows up the eCall initiative. This initiative is based on promoting and developing "intelligent vehicles", i.e. using new technology to make cars safer, cleaner and more efficient. The initiative aims to provide an answer to social problems related to road transport, primarily accidents and traffic congestion.

First eSafety Communication: Commission Communication of 15 September 2003 entitled "Information and Communications Technologies for Safe and Intelligent Vehicles" [COM(2003) 542 final - Not published in the Official Journal].

In this Communication, the Commission proposes the systematic use of ICTs to design safer and smarter vehicles. For this, it proposes three categories of action: promoting intelligent safety systems, adapting legislation and standards, and removing social and commercial barriers.

Last updated: 12.04.2007

See also

Further information can be found on the European Commission's eSafety [EN] website.

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