UK goes cold on e-Call scheme

UK goes cold on e-Call scheme

Government is sceptical about benefits of EU scheme for automatic vehicle alert system

The British government is going cold on Brussels' plans for an IT-based "e-Call" system intended to summon help in case of vehicle accidents.

The lukewarm stance of the House of Commons European Scrutiny Committee follows outright hostility from the Transport Committee towards the EU's proposed Galileo global positioning system, which might be used to support e-Call.

The pan-European emergency call system is being proposed by the European Commission as part of its "Intelligent Car Initiative". It would automatically generate a call from a crashed vehicle, establishing a voice link with the nearest emergency service and transmitting data such as vehicle details and location.

e-Call will reduce response times and could save up to 2,500 lives a year, claim Eurocrats.

Brussels is urging member states to carry out pilots during 2007 and 2008 and be ready to upgrade national systems to handle e-Call by 2010.

The Commission is also to start negotiations with European, Japanese and Korean car manufacturers on the voluntary inclusion of the system as standard in new vehicles from 2010.

But while the results of Department for Transport-commissioned research on the UK impact of eCall are under review, " the government's position is not to sign the Memorandum of Understanding" on the subject.