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Wednesday 29 November 2023 Dublin: 2°C
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New Technology

All new cars sold in Ireland from next April will 'call' emergency service if you crash

Once the car senses a severe impact the eCall device automatically initiates an emergency call.

ALL NEW CARS sold in Ireland from next April will be able to call the emergency services in the event of a crash.

In six months all new models of cars must 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%.

The quicker response will save hundreds of lives in the EU every year, with the EU stating the severity of injuries will also be considerably reduced in tens of thousands of cases.

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.

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.

Plus, the system will have to undergo rigorous certification testing over the coming months to ensure it is ready to go live on 1 April 2018.

The project to upgrade Ireland’s ECAS for the implementation of eCall was completed in advance of the deadline of 1 October.

The technology was first proposed in 2012, but legislation was delayed amid privacy concerns.

Communications Minister Denis Naughten said the new technology is similar to the recently launched mobile phone precise location technology, which texts your exact location in the case of an emergency.

He said eCall technology will have a similar effect and will save lives by ensuring the emergency services get to drivers involved in road traffic accidents faster.

“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,” he said.

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