In April 2015 MEPs approved an EU-wide emergency call system or “eCall” to help emergency services get to road accidents as soon as possible. This system is activated in the event of a car accident. It automatically calls the EU wide 112 emergency phone number (to establish a link to the emergency call centres) and transmits data with the details of the vehicle and its location. The new Regulation is expected to save lives, facilitate the work of firefighters, reduce traffic jams and save money. Research suggests that the system could halve response times, especially in rural areas. Road accidents took 25,700 lives in the EU in 2014, a death toll that the new devices could cut by an estimated 10% a year. All new cars will need to have the system as standard from 31 March this year.
IMCO was the lead Committee for this proposed regulation. ALDE would not have supported this text without strong safeguards on privacy. As a result of out work, the regulation provisions on data protection have been strengthened to preclude tracking of eCall-equipped vehicles before the accident occurs. ALDE also made sure that the new Regulation guaranteed that data gathered by emergency centres must not be transferred to third parties without explicit consent of the person concerned. Speaking after the vote, Ulla Tørnæs, lead negotiator MEP for the ALDE Group said:
“The eCall system is a great tool to save more lives on our roads and reduce the seriousness of injuries. In my opinion, we’ve reached a good balance between a high level of data protection and increased safety to the benefit of European citizens.”
All new models of passenger cars and light commercial vehicles will have to be equipped with the eCall system as of 31 March 2018. MEPs also secured an obligation for the European Commission to assess, in the three years after this spring, whether eCall devices should be included in other vehicles, such as buses, coaches or trucks.
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