All new cars to come with 'eCall' technology

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A police car speeds to an emergency.

Plenty of new cars are equipped with sophisticated technology that will call the emergency services for you in the event of an accident – Vauxhall's OnStar system is a great example. However, from April, this technology will be fitted into all new cars sold in Europe in a push to improve safety, under the name eCall.

The ruling was brought in by the European Union and is designed to improve emergency service response times. The technology will feature in all new cars, and in the UK messages will go directly to 999 call handlers.


The system will use sensors to detect when a vehicle has crashed, measuring factors like rapid deceleration and the deployment of airbags. The vehicle will then transmit the time, date and GPS location of the vehicle to the emergency services.

Privacy campaigners have claimed eCall hasn't been properly publicised, leaving most people unaware of its existence. Big Brother Watch said that it raised concerns over driver privacy, with some intelligence services in the US using similar systems to track people and vehicles.

Experts have denied this, claiming the system is only triggered in the event of an accident. The Department for Transport also said it was fully prepared for the introduction of the system, with BT demonstrating it can handle the extra call volume.

The system is likely to remain on new cars even after the UK leaves the EU, as it would make little sense for European manufacturers to drop the system specifically for the UK.