Fleet News

UK urged to join eCall safety plan

The UK government is coming under increasing pressure to sign up to a European road safety initiative that will result in all new cars being fitted with a standard emergency call system by 2010.

The pan-European in-vehicle call system (eCall) has the Europe-wide 112 emergency number at its heart.

In the event of a serious accident anywhere in Europe, cars equipped with the system will automatically notify the nearest emergency centre even if no vehicle occupant is able to communicate.

“If we are serious about saving lives on European roads, then all 27 member states should set a deadline to make eCall standard equipment in all new cars,” said Viviane Reding, the EU’s Commissioner for the Information Society and Media.

“If fast progress cannot be made voluntarily, I stand ready to intervene.”

But Britain has said it will not sign a memorandum of understanding on eCall until the commission provides more information.

A spokesperson for the Department for Transport confirmed that it is still in discussions with the commission and will not comment further on when or if it will sign.

According to commissioner’s spokesman Martin Selmayr, the UK is concerned over the perceived cost of the eCall system, a concern he says is unwarranted.

“As we believe eCall equipment will be standard in Europe and profit from economies of scale, we believe this concern of the UK government can be overcome.”

The UK’s reluctance to sign is clearly frustrating the commission. “Let’s make no mistake, important EU countries are still not responding to eCall.

“If this does not change quickly, it could endanger both Europe’s competitiveness and – more important – the lives of European citizens,” said Ms Reding.

She warned that the commission was considering a directive to force the implementation of eCall.

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