Hello? Police? Yes, I'm a car and my idiot driver's crashed me

Herbie becomes the fourth (or fifth?) emergency service

New cars sold in the EU will soon be able to call the emergency services without human intervention.

A new law approved by MEPs on Tuesday will make the so-called eCall system obligatory for all new car models sold in the EU from April 2018.

eCall uses the Europe-wide 112 emergency number to call the emergency services automatically in the case of a crash.

“The goal is to solve the effectiveness of the arrival of rescue services within the golden hour – the time that makes the difference between life or death – in a standard way across the EU,” explained European Parliament rapporteur Olga Sehnalová.

Since the idea is to allow emergency services to reach crash scenes faster, there had been widespread concern that this means cars would be automatically tracked at all times.

“From the beginning we have put great emphasis on the protection of personal data. We wanted to make it absolutely clear that there would be no continuous monitoring under this system,” Sehnalová reassured.

“The information is transferred only at the moment a serious accident occurs and airbag sensors set off. Then a standard set of information is sent to the rescue services, in accordance with the system of the given member state. Subsequently a voice connection is established to avoid sending rescue services to small accidents,” she explained.

The proposed system would work across borders using automatic notification.

The new law only covers car manufacturers. Separate legislation requiring national authorities to ensure that they have the requisite infrastructure is already in place.

The plan will be put to a vote by the whole European Parliament at the end of April, but this is expected to be a mere formality. ®

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