EU considers imposing car crash alert system

BRUSSELS Fri Aug 21, 2009 9:57am EDT

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BRUSSELS Aug 21 (Reuters) - Car makers could be forced to install technology into new European cars by 2014 that would automatically call emergency services in the event of a crash, the European Union's executive said on Friday.

The eCall system can save the lives of people who are unconscious or confused about their location after an accident, but it has failed to take off due to worries about the costs.

Although the standards and technology are ready and 15 countries have given it their backing, Denmark, France, Ireland, Latvia, Malta and Britain are not ready to commit, the European Commission said in a statement.

"If the eCall roll-out does not accelerate, the Commission stands ready to set out clear rules obliging governments, industry and emergency services to respond," said European telecommunications commissioner Viviane Reding.

"I want to see the first eCall cars on our roads next year," she added in a statement.

The Commission said it presented a strategy for introducing the system in all new vehicles across Europe by 2014, starting from next year.

It estimated the system could save 2,500 lives annually. (Reporting by Pete Harrison; editing by Janet Lawrence)

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