Road safety: MEPs say mandatory emergency eCall system in cars will save lives
All new cars must be fitted by 2015 with eCall devices to alert the rescue services automatically to road crashes through the public 112 emergency call system, say MEPs in a resolution adopted jointly by the Internal Market and Transport Committees on Tuesday. This system would speed up the arrival of the emergency services, saving lives and reducing injuries, adds the non-binding resolution.
“Our report sends a clear signal of the European Parliament's support for the introduction of eCall. It is my wish that it will serve as a model for a legislative proposal by the Commission in 2012”, said Internal Market co-rapporteur Olga Sehnalova (S&D, CZ) on Monday. Her counterpart from the Transport Committee, Dieter-Lebrecht Koch (EPP, DE), gave a recent example of a road accident in Germany that was only spotted later, in a routine patrol by emergency services. "That is a strong message in support of eCalls", he said.
The resolution, adopted by 58 votes to 4, with 8 abstentions, regrets the delays in the voluntary deployment of eCall to date and the small proportion of cars fitted with it (only 0.4%) and urges the Commission to table legislation to make the eCall system mandatory by 2015.
The aim of the in-vehicle eCall system (based on the 112 call platform) is to ensure that the emergency services are alerted automatically to serious road accidents, says the resolution. This should save lives and reduce the severity of injuries as qualified and equipped assistance would get to the scene of the accident earlier – according to the “golden hour” principle.
According to estimates, the eCall system would save up to 2500 lives a year and reduce the severity of injuries by 10 % to 15 %, the resolution states.
Technology is ready
MEPs point out that the necessary technology is available and common EU-wide standards have been agreed. They therefore call on the Commission to table legislation requiring the Member States to upgrade their emergency response services infrastructure so that it can handle eCalls by 2015.
The resolution stresses that the eCall service cannot be used to monitor a person’s movements or determine his or her location unless that person has been involved in an accident. The main purpose of the system is to improve incident management, the text adds.
The non-legislative resolution will be voted in plenary in Strasbourg in July. The Commission is expected to table a legislative proposal on eCall by the end of 2012.
In the chair: The Chair of the Transport and Tourism Committee, Brian Simpson (S&D, UK) and the Chair of the Internal Market and Consumer Protection Committee, Malcolm Harbour (ECR, UK)