Green light for post-crash auto emergency assistance

EU Parliament approves measure to make all 151-reg cars carry GPS safety monitoring

MEPs say the new system will better enable emergency services to reach accidents within the ‘golden hour’.	Photograph: Cyril Byrne / The Irish Times

MEPs say the new system will better enable emergency services to reach accidents within the ‘golden hour’. Photograph: Cyril Byrne / The Irish Times

Sat, Mar 15, 2014, 14:26

A move to ensure that all 151- registered cars will automatically call the emergency services in the event of a crash, has been approved by the European Parliament.

Already some car manufacturers - mainly the more expensive brands – offer an automatic call and monitoring service at an extra cost to car buyers.

The system works by using the GPS phone system so cars can send an automatic call to a dedicated monitoring service - in much the same way that some house alarms do - ensuring that emergency services have the best chance of getting to the scene and treating victims within the critical “golden hour” after an injury.

However MEP Jim Higgins said the potentially life-saving measure should not be confined to more expensive cars. He argued it should be introduced in all cars and vans without delay, a point accepted by MEPS who voted overwhelmingly in favour of the measure.

Mr Higgins described yesterday’s vote by the European Parliament’s Internal Market Committee as “a watershed in road safety”. The service is to be known as ‘eCall’.

Mr Higgins who is Ireland’s member on the parliament’s transport committee said the key technologies for eCall are already available and in use, “so there is no need to postpone the entry-into-force any longer”.

He said the MEPs had worked on a law to make this system mandatory on all new cars from January 1st next year. “After a serious car crash, the time taken for emergency services to reach you can mean the difference between life and death - this is often referred to as the Golden Hour. This system has the potential to save many Irish lives because it will enable the emergency services to respond quicker”.

The new law will now go to EU heads of Government for approval.