Accident assistance: what danger lurks behind the eCall emergency call system

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What danger lurks behind the eCall emergency call system

Accident assistance: what danger lurks behind the eCall emergency call system-assistance

If a car has a serious accident in the future, the airbag sensors trigger an automatic emergency call to the emergency call center via mobile radio. She sends help – and mediates whoworkshop orders

Source: Infographic Die Welt

If road traffic accidents can be rescued, there is actually no need for any discussion. But there is a dispute about the eCall emergency call system, which is now being launched by the EU Parliament.

D.he Opel parent company General Motors claims to be a pioneer in rapid accident relief. In 1996, under the name Onstar, the first emergency call system was installed ex works. In addition to traffic information, Onstar also offered the option of locating the car in the event of an accident right from the start.

While the success in Germany was rather restrained, Onstar has more than six million customers in the USA, Canada and now also in China. Ford offers – also in Germany – a similar system called Sync. Mercedes Benz also introduced an automatic emergency call in June 2012.

Now the European Parliament has decided to make binding specifications for all manufacturers for a uniform emergency call system called eCall. The EU Commission estimates that the system can significantly shorten the time it takes for the emergency services to arrive. 2500 lives a year could be saved in this way.

The system is activated as a result of a serious accident. It automatically dials 112 and transmits the location of the vehicle and the important direction of travel on motorways. It also establishes a call connection with the control center. The emergency call can also be triggered manually at the push of a button.

Cost less than 100 euros

So far, the European politicians in Strasbourg have only agreed on the lowest common denominator and negotiated with the EU states. Talks could start in the fall. It remains to be seen whether the serial introduction of eCall for cars and light commercial vehicles on the European market will work out as planned in October 2015.

One point of contention is the cost. If eCall is introduced on a large scale, it should cost “significantly less” than 100 euros per new car, according to the EU Commission. At Mercedes in the E-Class it currently costs around 3000 euros (including VAT) – but then, as with many manufacturers, it is also part of a comprehensive audio and navigation system.

If such a system is on board, eCall only makes "a few euros", explained an expert from the EU Commission. In some EU countries, the rescue coordination centers would also have to be equipped to receive data.

Not ready for use everywhere yet

Opponents complain about a Big Brother scenario. The German Lawyers’ Association warns of the “transparent motorist”, and the Automobile Club of Germany (AvD) sees eCall as “the technical basis for a comprehensive surveillance structure”. The reminders fear that data collected by eCall, for example on driving style, speed and braking behavior, could be used against the user after an accident.

The MPs want to prevent this: They want to introduce eCall as a "sleeping system" that only sends data in the event of an accident. This information should include details of the direction of travel, seat belts used, the type of vehicle and the time of the accident.

In addition, there is already a struggle behind the scenes for the access options to the eCall system, which mediate lucrative business. Insurance companies, authorized workshops and breakdown services also vie to be informed when an emergency call is made.

The automatic emergency call systems of the individual manufacturers do not yet cover all EU countries. In addition, the call is currently only going to a control center, which on behalf of the manufacturer and then, if necessary, further connects to the number 112, as announced by the EU Commission. It’s a detour. That is why the EU legislators are tinkering with rules for a uniform system.

So far, not even one percent of all vehicles in the EU have comparable technology on board.

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