A MOVE to save 2,500 lives a year in car accidents could see new cars fitted with an automatic dial-up system to call emergency services in the event of a crash.
The measure, which could come into force by October 2015, was announced by EU transport commissioner Siim Kallas, who said: "When an accident happens, every minute counts."
Last year 28,000 people died and 1.5 million were injured on EU roads and Mr Kallas said the automatic eCall system could speed up emergency response by 40% in built-up areas and 50% in the countryside - saving up to 2,500 lives a year.
The eCall system costs around €100 per car and automatically calls 112 - Europe's single emergency number - in the event of a serious crash, communicating the car’s location, even if the driver is unconscious or unable to make a call.
"Today's proposals are a milestone for safer roads in the EU," Mr Kallas added. They will also help make European vehicles more intelligent and give a much-needed shot in the arm to the community’s struggling car industry, senior officials said.
Under the draft proposals released by the European Commission, all new models of passenger cars and light utility vehicles would be fitted with 112 eCall and infrastructure put in place to ensure handling of the calls at response centres across the European Union.
The number could also be triggered manually by a driver in trouble, a passenger or even a witness by pushing a button in the car.
However, there have been concerns over privacy and possible covert policing of drivers and the Commission said eCall does not allow the tracking of vehicles, as it sleeps until activated by a crash to send signals.