Europe wants in-car emergency alert systems

European countries are under pressure to require new cars to carry onboard communication systems that automatically alert emergency services if a vehicle is involved in an accident. The European Commission, the regulatory and administrative arm of the European Union, is warning that it could propose pan-European regulations on "eCall" technology if there isn't greater progress toward voluntary introduction of the system by the end of the year.

"I want to see the first eCall cars on the road next year. If the eCall roll-out does not accelerate, the Commission stands ready to set out clear rules obliging governments, industry services to respond," Viviane Reding, the EU's commissioner for information society and media, said, according to E-Health Insider.

A new report from the commission says that such technology could reduce emergency response time by half, and save 2,500 lives and 26 billion euros in health costs across EU nations each year. In 2005, the commission called for voluntary implementation of eCall in new cars by 2009, but movement in that direction has been halting. The standards for an eCall network are in place, but many countries, including the UK, France, Denmark and Ireland, have pushed back, citing high costs.

For more about eCall:
- read this E-Health Insider story
- see the European Commission's report (.pdf)