Beginning March 31, 2018, all new car and light commercial vehicles in the European Union will be required to have "eCall" in-vehicle emergency response service that automatically dials the local emergency number in the event of a serious road accident. To enable this technology, vehicle manufacturers will be required to fit vehicles with sensors that can detect a crash as well as with a telematics control unit that enables voice and data connections for telematics services.
Upon detection of an accident (e.g. when an airbag deploys), the eCall system establishes a voice connection directly with the 112 emergency number (the equivalent of 911 in the US). Even if no passenger is able to speak due to injury, a "data telegram" is sent to the emergency call center via the mobile network that includes information vital for emergency dispatchers, including a timestamp, vehicle type and location, the number of passengers and the direction of travel. All cars will also be fit with a manual eCall button that unhurt passengers and witnesses can push.
Most road fatalities in the EU occur on rural roads, making quick emergency services notification and satellite location critical to reducing these deaths. The eCall technology is expected to reduce the window of time between when an accident occurs and the arrival of emergency services by up to 50 percent in rural areas and up to 40 percent in urban areas. By getting passengers needed assistance quicker, the number of fatalities is expected to decrease by up to 1,500 per year.