It's been in the works for more than seven years, but a deal between the European Parliament and the European Council has agreed upon mandatory implementation of eCall on all cars and light commercial vehicles sold in Europe by March 1, 2018. It works like the SOS feature in OnStar or in a Mercedes-Benz vehicle, except it's automatic - eCall automatically dials the Europe-wide 112 emergency services number when an accident happens. Even if occupants can't speak, the system will broadcast a "minimum set of data," among that being the location of the accident, the time, the kind of vehicle and what fuel it uses.

Some 26,000 people died on European roads in 2013. The European Council predicts that eCall will lower response times to accidents by 50 percent in rural areas and 60 percent in urban areas, resulting in more lives saved and reducing the severity of injuries.

eCall can also be activated by pressing a button in the car; for instance, if another driver witnesses an accident, he or she can call the emergency response center to report it. The system won't eliminate automaker call centers that handle safety issues - eCall operates automatically and the driver would have the choice of calling the manufacturer's center. Unlike automaker-installed add-ons, however, eCall is prohibited from transmitting any information about vehicle location outside of accident scenarios, the European Parliament is requiring carmakers to provide safeguards to ensure the complete erasure of any eCall data and prohibits data being transferred to any third party.

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