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All new cars in Ireland to be equipped to dial emergency services if you crash

eCall is a new life-saving technology which will be fitted to all new cars from today.

AS OF THIS weekend, all new models of cars and light vans will be fitted with technology that will call the emergency services in the event of a crash.

All new models of cars must now have an electronic safety system built-in that will automatically call Ireland’s emergency call answering service (ECAS) in the event of a serious accident.

eCall is a European-wide initiative introduced to bring fast assistance to motorists involved in a collision anywhere in the EU.

How does it work? 

Once the car senses a severe impact the eCall device automatically initiates a 112 emergency call to ECAS. It then transmits vehicle’s exact location to emergency services, the time of incident and the direction of travel (most important on motorways).

Even if the driver is unconscious or unable to make the call, perhaps due to injuries, a minimum set of data is sent, which includes the exact location of the crash site.

Whether the call is made manually or automatically, there will always be a voice connection between the vehicle and emergency services.

The alert can also be triggered manually by pushing a button in the car, for example by the driver or witness of the accident.

It’s believed the alert system will cut emergency services’ response time in the countryside by 50% and in built-up areas by 60%.

Fine Gael MEP Brian Hayes said the life-saving technology fitted in all new cars from today, will help to increase the safety of road users by significantly reducing the arrival time of rescue services in the event of a major accident.

“Around 25,500 people lost their lives and 135,000 were seriously injured on EU roads in 2016. While this was 2% down on the 2015 figure, the reduction may be too small to ensure that the EU meets its target of halving road fatalities between 2010 and 2020,” he said.

Data protection

As eCall normally ‘sleeps’, it does not allow vehicle tracking outside emergencies. Concern over data sharing was one of the reasons the roll-out of the new system was delayed.

Though the proposal was first flagged in 2012, due to worries about privacy concerns it was held back. However, it was eventually agreed that only basic data will be sent and only when an accident occurs.

Hayes said EU member states and manufacturers had been given enough time to prepare infrastructure and technologies, so that the eCall can start to work immediately.

In order to be ready for the start date, Ireland’s emergency call answering service has been upgraded to ensure its infrastructure can handle the new technology.

Communications Minister Denis Naughten said the advancements in precise location technology both in our cars and on our phones ensures our emergency personnel are supported in their work with modern technology that will have a profound effect in practice.

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