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eCall's Trojan Numbers

The EU mandates for automatic emergency call systems to be installed in all new cars and light commercial vehicles.

Emergency call devices that automatically alert rescue services to car crashes must be fitted to all new models of cars and light vans in the EU by October 2015, said MEPs on Wednesday in a vote on draft legislation setting up the eCall system. Road accidents across the EU caused 28 000 deaths and left 1.5 million injured in 2012.

The Trojan number of 28,000 is used to grab attention, perhaps to leave the glance-and-run reader with the impression that eCall would be saving that many lives every year.

Those who read the detail, find "About 2500 lives could be saved every year in Europe as well as the severity of injuries could be considerably reduced in tens of thousands of cases." as a qualification.

There is no documentation on how those figures are arrived at. Nor is there any mention of the fact of the often-spotty coverage of the mobile telephone network upon which the eCall technology depends. Or of the penetration of new vehicles into the market; if they are more expensive than at present.

Would the burden still be justified if it saved only 25 lives a year?

Some people may also baulk at the thought of activating a radio transmitter in the proximity of a potential fuel spill.

If eCall does become a reality, then there is also the negative social effect of those who encounter a crash scene either simply passing the site believing that help has already been summoned, or even if they stop and to not make the call to ensure that emergency services are on the way.

This illustrates that if one wants to make a bad situation worse, then one should involve the government.