The Transport Research Laboratory (TRL), has developed new test procedures for the European type-approval of eCall in-vehicle systems.
The eCall system installs a device in vehicles that will automatically alert emergency services in the event of a serious road accident.
Following legislation from the European Parliament and EU member states, eCall will become mandatory across Europe from 2018 in a move to reduce the time it takes for the emergency services to reach casualties, thereby improving survival chances.
The European Transport Safety Council (ETSC) points to research which shows that with eCall, emergency service response time will be cut by around 50% in rural areas and 40% in urban areas. And a German study, "STORM" (Stuttgart Transport Operation by Regional Management), showed almost 50% rescue time improvement in rural areas, with a net gain of around 10 minutes.
The system works by wirelessly sending airbag deployment and impact sensor information, as well as GPS coordinates, to local emergency agencies.
The TRL draft proposals, which were developed for the European Commission, provide recommendations on the safety requirements for eCall systems and aim to ensure that sub-standard system designs, which could jeopardise the safety of road users, will not be allowed onto the European market.
Matthias Seidl, senior vehicle safety researcher at TRL, said: “Our in-house test sled allows us to simulate collisions with peak decelerations considerably higher than most current vehicle tests. These high levels are necessary to ensure that eCall systems are still able to make an emergency call, even after a severe crash.”
“The results can be used to help shape the technical discussions at an international level in order to ensure that the same level of protection is provided to road users around the world. In fact, the suggested European standards have also been proposed to the United Nations working group on automatic emergency call systems.”