EU Regulation on eCall In-Vehicle Systems Published
An "eCall" system is a system fitted to a motor vehicle that automatically contacts the emergency services via a mobile phone network if the vehicle is involved in a severe accident and provides the emergency services with the precise location of the vehicle using GPS. In addition to transmitting this information, the system will also establish a voice connection between the vehicle and the emergency services so that, if the vehicle's occupants are still conscious, they can communicate directly with the emergency services call centre to provide additional information. The benefit of such a system is that the emergency services receive information about the accident more quickly than by traditional means and, with the accurate vehicle location information, can get the appropriate emergency personnel to the accident scene more rapidly.
Due to the obvious road safety benefits of eCall, the European Commission have been advocating the deployment of a European Union wide eCall service since 2003 and, in 2012, the European Parliament adopted a resolution requesting the European Commission to develop the legislative framework necessary for the deployment of an EU wide eCall system by 2015. The European Commission duly drafted a Regulation specifying the type approval requirements for in-vehicle eCall systems in June 2013. However, adoption of this draft by the European Council and the European Parliament has taken some time due to the complexities associated with developing the requirements for an EU wide eCall system, which included ensuring that all of the Member States will have the infrastructure and facilities in place to handle eCalls, ensuring that all of the mobile phone network operators throughout the EU will have the facilities in place to deal with eCalls and ensuring that the application of the "data protection" requirements to the information transmitted via the eCall system had been fully considered.
Having been adopted by the European Parliament on 28th April 2015, the final EU Regulation on the type approval requirements for in-vehicle eCall systems was published in the Official Journal on 19th May 2015 as EU Regulation No. 2015/758. This new Regulation requires that, from 31st March 2018, all new types of M1 and N1 category vehicle (i.e. passenger cars, multipurpose passenger vehicles and light goods vehicles with a GVW not exceeding 3,500 kg) must be permanently fitted with an in-vehicle eCall system, although an exemption from this requirement is permitted for vehicles type approved under the small series and individual vehicle approval requirements.
The Regulation requires that the system must be able to automatically trigger an eCall transmission when the vehicle's onboard sensors (usually the same ones used to control airbag deployment) detect that the vehicle has been involved in a severe accident. In addition, it must be possible for the vehicle occupants to manually initiate an eCall transmission.
The detailed technical requirements that the in-vehicle eCall system must comply with are not contained within (EU) No. 2015/758. These detailed requirements will be specified in Delegated Regulations, which the European Commission have already begun work on drafting. As part of this work, the European Commission are also empowered to introduce exemptions for specific vehicle types that cannot be equipped with an appropriate eCall triggering mechanism for technical reasons. (EU) No. 2015/758 specifies that the first of these Delegated Regulations will be adopted by 9th June 2016.
Similarly, (EU) No. 2015/758 does not contain the administrative procedures for the type approval of in-vehicle eCall systems. These will be specified in an Implementing Regulation which, according to (EU) No. 2015/758, will also be adopted by 9th June 2016.