EU backs road accident life-saver

Plans being developed by the European Union (EU) could see all new cars fitted with a device that automatically contacts emergency services if it detects an accident.

Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) are supporting proposals to implement the eCall system, which employs sensors to alert emergency services if a vehicle crashes, using similar technology to devices which trigger airbags.

The system sends coordinates of the vehicle's location and other information, as well as calling the emergency services operator via the EU-wide emergency services number 112.

It could be mandatory for new cars to be fitted with eCall from 2015, and the European Commission (EC) has signalled that it does not regard privacy as an issue of concern. It is thought the device could save up to 2,500 lives on the continent annually.

The EC believes that while eCall services will be free, the technology could also have commercial applications, in fields as diverse as tracking vehicle thefts or electronic road toll charging.

The UK Government has yet to sign up to the initiative due to cost concerns.

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