Photo: Vivane Reding, EU commissioner for the Information Society and Media

Imagine an electronic safety system in your car that would automatically call emergency services if you had an accident, begins an EC report released today. Supposing that, even if you were unconscious, the system would inform rescue workers of your exact whereabouts. The ambulance and the fire brigade could be on their way in minutes, without the need for any human intervention. And imagine that this system would work anywhere in Europe -- whatever the local language. Such a system is not only possible; it is currently being rolled out across the European Union. The system is called "eCall" and it is one of the most important road safety actions under the European Union's "e-safety" initiative.

The European Commission outlined today new plans to accelerate the drive for safer, cleaner and smarter cars. The Commission will start negotiations with European and Asian automotive industry associations later this year to reach an agreement on offering the pan-European in-vehicle emergency call system (eCall) as a standard option in all new cars from 2010. It will also further promote the take-up of other life-saving technologies and investigate how technology can help make cars greener and smarter.

"Technology can save lives, improve road transport and protect the environment," said Viviane Reding, the EU's commissioner for the Information Society and Media. "The EU must spread this good news among consumers and continue to put pressure on stakeholders to ensure Europeans benefit from these winning technologies sooner rather than later. If we are serious about saving lives on European roads, then all 27 member states should set a deadline to make eCall and Electronic Stability Control (ESC) standard equipment in all new cars. At the same time we need to clear administrative obstacles to innovations that will make cars safer and cleaner. For example, making sure radio frequencies are available for cooperative driving systems that will cut accidents, reduce congestion and lower CO2 emissions. If fast progress cannot be made voluntarily, I stand ready to intervene."

Jacques Barrot, commissioner for transport, said: "In our fight to halve the number of road casualties by 2010, we are taking action on all fronts -- safer drivers, safer infrastructure and safer vehicles. With this action on intelligent cars, the Commission is pushing to ensure that cutting-edge technology finds its way into our cars as soon as possible where it will help save lives and reduce the environmental impact of transport."

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