Damian James' Blog: 1 September 2009 - Caller on the line
01 September 2009
Damian James is Head of Transport Provision for Bracknell Forest Council and a technology champion
It's the summer and the automotive world seems to have limited stories around at the moment. One thing that was of interest in the news this week though was a statement from the EU about eCall. This is a system that automatically contacts the emergency services when sensors in your car are activated following a crash. The automatic contact will open up a voice channel for you to speak to the emergency services or if you can't it will send data such as exact location, severity and locations of impact and your vehicle details. This allows the emergency services to attend in the shortest possible time in order to more successfully do their job within the 'golden hour'.
The 'will we won't we' debate has been rumbling on for years mostly due to the cost of the infrastructure and the cost for the manufacturers. Well now it appears that the EU are running out of patience and they have issued a statement to say if things don't improve they will bring in legislation to make sure the project gets off the ground. The introduction of eCall has been predicted to save around 2,500 lives a year across Europe so it can certainly make a significant difference to road users if they are unfortunate enough to be involved in a collision.
The target that the EU has set is to have an eCall system being installed into all new cars by 2014. This date has already been moved a number of times. I remember giving a presentation at a fleet conference on vehicle technology in 2007 where I showed a roll out time table on eCall. This predicted that the system would be installed as standard from the middle of 2010.
As the UK has still to sign the memorandum of understanding on eCall I think in reality the project is likely to stall unless the stakeholders are given no choice about its introduction. What this means is that it will require the legislation that is mentioned in the press release to kick start the project again which for me is a real missed opportunity and will certainly cost lives in the meantime.
I know there is not an unlimited pot of gold but what price do you put on a life?