eCall – a necessity for developing economies  

On account of a serious road accident, an eCall can be generated either manually by vehicle occupants by pressing an SOS button inside the car or automatically by activation of in-vehicle sensors.


By Darshan Shetty

India is one of the busiest countries in the world and is a growing automotive hub with a large network of roads. According to Statista, around 2.39 million passenger vehicles were registered in the country in 2021. With this rapid increase in the number of cars on the road, safety has become a vital factor for the citizens of the country.

With more motorists on the roads, accidents have become a prevalent and major cause of concern across the Indian subcontinent. In 2020, out of the total reported road accidents that occurred, 33 percent were fatal, and 35 percent were incidents where the passengers encountered minor injuries. Every year, about three to five percent of India’s GDP is consumed in road accidents. According to the data given on Statista, India accounts for 21 percent of the world’s powered vehicle population and also accounts for six percent of the reported global road traffic incidents.

The automotive industry is constantly innovating newer safety technologies that can help in preventing and lowering the fatality rate in the country caused due to road accidents. An Emergency Call system is one such technology that could help in reducing the fatality rate by prompting an alert and initiating action.

On account of a serious road accident, an eCall can be generated either manually by vehicle occupants by pressing an SOS button inside the car or automatically by activation of in-vehicle sensors. In the event of a collision, an eCall – equipped vehicle automatically can contact the responsible Public Safety Answering Point (PSAP) to report the accident and share the location of the crashed vehicle. The PSAP for that area accordingly sends for help by choosing from police, fire teams or medical teams to the accident site. eCall is mostly triggered by the impact sensors present in cars that are monitored to detect an accident or crash.

For easy detection, the system also transmits data to emergency services, including a timestamp, GPS location, and information about the direction the vehicle was traveling to. Statistically, a shorter response time means casualties get help faster so that more harm can be prevented, and timely medical aid can save the lives of the passengers.

As India records an alarming number of road accident occurrences, the eCall technology can be of much value and save the lives of thousands of people. Quick response in case of emergencies can reduce the number of fatalities through the required assistance.

One of the major factors driving advanced vehicle connectivity in the European Union is the legislation of eCall functionality. Similarly, in India, it is predicted that eCall will reduce the emergency response time by up to 40 percent in urban areas and reduce fatalities by up to 4 percent. It can prove to be more beneficial in case an accident occurs in a remote area. The proposal to mandate eCalls in personal vehicles has already been submitted and is being considered by the government.

Continental Automotive has also been developing telematics units since 1996. Through this safety feature, the possibility of reducing the seriousness of a post-crash fatality is higher. The telematics unit in the vehicles can also be used for other applications, such as to know the real-time information about traffic flows, tracking of stolen vehicles or to get an update about potential hazards.

eCall is just one of the many functions that could be integrated into every new vehicle’s telematics unit. It is a critical component of holistic connectivity that can aid in the transformation of a car into a smartphone on wheels, bridging the mobile and digital worlds.

The author is the Head of Business Area, Architecture and Networking, Continental Automotive India.

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First published on: 28-11-2022 at 10:05 IST