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EU Now Requires All New Vehicles to Be Equipped with eCall

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The European Union recently passed legislation mandating that all new vehicles have eCall technology. The system automatically contacts emergency services in the event of an accident. The eCall technology is similar to the emergency service alert systems available on some U.S. vehicles, however these services are usually add-on options that require a paid subscription.

The eCall system works by connecting the vehicle’s passengers with a human operator at the nearest Public Safety Answering Point. The technology will transmit useful data to the center, such as the accident location, the route the vehicle was traveling, and vehicle information including its VIN. It will also let the center know whether the technology was manually or automatically triggered.

ECall is supposed to greatly reduce the wait time for passengers who are involved in an accident and need medical help. Olga Sehnalová, a Czech member of the European Parliament who helped establish the law, predicted that the technology should reduce emergency response time by 40% in urban areas and 50% in rural areas.

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The primary concern with the technology is data privacy. Like with any information-based system, drivers worry that personal information like vehicle location, will fall into the wrong hands. To help protect consumer data, eCall regulations require that manufacturers of eCall systems and service providers adhere to certain procedures, precautions, and privacy rules.

Only time will reveal whether or not eCall technology gains public favor or disapproval. If it does succeed in Europe, the U.S. might consider implementing a mandatory in-vehicle emergency service alert policy of its own. Though, considering the current concern about infotainment systems leaking personal information, such legislation will likely have to overcome a huge hurdle of resistance from drivers who value privacy over emergency service promptness.

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