More than 25,700 people died driving on european highways last year. In an effort to reduce these incidents, the European Parliament has voted to outfit every new passenger car and light truck in the EU with an auto-dialing system that rings 112 (Europe's 911) in the event of a major accident. Known as eCall, it will be "a public service, free of charge for all citizens, irrespective of the type of vehicle or its purchase price," MEP Olga Sehnalova explained in a statement. They'll also be standard options for all new vehicles sold after March 31st, 2018.
The program was originally pitched in 2012 but was delayed as regulators worked out a balance between utility and privacy. The eCall system in its current form prevents authorities from tracking vehicles prior to a crash and only sends basic information--vehicle type, location and number of passengers--when a wreck does occur. "The information is transferred only at the moment a serious accident occurs and airbag are sensors set off," Sehnalova continued. "Then a standard set of information is sent to the rescue services."
These devices are expected to reduce emergency crew response times by 40 percent in urban areas and halve them in rural communities. As such, the European Commission estimates the program will reduce driver deaths by a whopping 10 percent--2,500 lives annually. The device is expected to add only around $100 to the total price of a new vehicle.