The UN Road Safety Week opened today and along with it was held Autocar Professional’s annual webinar on road safety. One of the news highlights of the webinar was the revelation that eCall, short for emergency calling, is on the cards for India.
The eCall feature will be a good fillip to reducing road fatalities in India. However, the requisite infrastructure to facilitate this technology has to be in place, said Abhay V Mannikar, senior deputy director (Head – Passive Safety Lab), Automotive Research Association of India (ARAI).
Mannikar was participating in the webinar on the theme of 'Towards Safer Mobility, Regulations & Technologies' along with Ramashankar Pandey, managing director, Hella India Lighting and Sudeep Narayan, communications director, Volvo Car India.
According to Mannikar, the proposal for notification for eCall for PVs in India has been submitted to the government which is considering it. He said, “In fact, eCall should be there for all segments, especially two-wheelers, because the technology is available and is also affordable. It can save lives. However, for it to be successful, it needs proper infrastructure and an ecosystem. The government is thinking of implementing it on the new highways that are being built across the country.”
Given that India has the worst record in road crashes in the world, this safety feature would go a long way towards saving lives. ECall automatically alerts rescue services to car crashes in case of a severe accident and/or rollover situation. Legislation on eCall functionality is one of the major factors driving advanced vehicle connectivity in the EU and has become mandatory for all cars and vans sold in the EU from April 2018.
eCall: a life-saver
The sole aim of eCall is to save lives on the road. In the event of an accident, more so if it occurs in a remote area or in rural hinterland, or during the night, critical time can be lost if the injured occupants of the vehicle are unable to call the emergency services or there is no one else to do so. In such a situation, getting medical treatment or reaching a hospital can mean the difference between life and death. It is estimated that eCall can speed up emergency response times by up to 40 percent in urban areas and reduce the number of fatalities by at least four percent, if not more.
eCall typically gets triggered by impact sensors in the car which are continuously monitored to detect an accident or crash. Airbag accelerometers may form part of this system. Alternatively, eCall systems may be triggered manually by the driver using a dedicated ‘SOS’ button in the car.
Once the call goes through, an operator will try to speak to the vehicle occupant(s) to known what has happened, if paramedics are needed. If voice contact cannot be made, paramedics are immediately despatched to the site of the accident. The eCall system also transmits data known as the ‘Minimum Set of Data’ (MSD) to the emergency services, which includes a timestamp for the incident, GPS location data and information about the direction the vehicle was travelling to allow the accident site to be found as quickly as possible. This data is actually sent by an in-band modem over the GSM voice channel, in a similar way to how fax machines work.