The European Parliament has approved a measure that will see the eCall system required in all new cars
The European Parliament has approved legislation intended to place emergency-call equipment in all new cars beginning in three years’ time.
The eCall system automatically calls standardised European emergency number 112 in the event of a serious accident, reporting data such as the vehicle’s location, the time of the incident and the number of passengers. An eCall can also be triggered manually by pushing a button in a car, allowing witnesses to report accidents.
The European Commission said data only leaves the car in the event of an accident and isn’t stored any longer than necessary. Data can’t be transferred to third parties, including legal authorities, without the users’ consent, the Commission said.
However, critics argued the system doesn’t prevent accidents and doesn’t go far enough in protecting driver privacy. Security experts have long warned that such systems are often vulnerable to hacking, which could expose user data.
The decision, which means all new cars and light vans in Europe must contain eCall from April 2018, was welcomed by the automobile industry and by the Commission, which said it could reduce road deaths by 10 percent per year.
“eCall is a perfect example of an EU-supported project that developed technological solutions to save people’s lives,” said Günther Oettinger, commissioner for digital society and economy, in a statement.
The Commission, which proposed the law, estimates it could help reduce emergency response times by half in the countryside and 60 percent in urban areas. Three years after implementation the scheme will face a review to investigate whether it should be implemented in buses, coaches and lorries.
Some MEPs criticised the project as doing nothing to prevent accidents, in spite of its expense.
“Just putting in the infrastructure for this would eat up a huge chunk of the road safety budget, yet it will not prevent a single crash,” Vicky Ford, a Conservative MEP, told Reuters.
eCall has been developed and deployed across 15 countries since 2011, according to the Commission, which proposed the new law two years ago.
BT recently launched an “ethical hacking” service aimed at strengthening in-car electronics systems against hacker attacks.
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