European cars will automatically call emergency services by 2018 after a crash

The European Union is taking advantage of new connected systems inside cars, by announcing a mandatory emergency services feature inside all cars and light vans by 31 March 2018.

The emergency call feature will use eCall, a system capable of understanding when a car has crashed, which will automatically call emergency services. It will offer directions to the car site, and hopefully speed up the whole process instead of having a bystander call emergency services.

"The European Parliament has repeatedly stressed that reducing deaths and the severity of injuries on the roads is its priority," said Czech MEP Olga Sehnalova, the legislation's lead negotiator, in a statement.

Sehnalova also said that it would be available to all drivers regardless of vehicle price. European regulators will work with car manufacturers to make sure these safeguards are added to all vehicles, although older models will not have to go through the same changes.

eCall costs around £80 per unit, not a major expense for a £10,000 car. It will only become active if the car crashes, meaning for the most part it will remain dormant. It is not clear if car manufacturers will be able to make their own emergency system.

Considering it takes around 10 years for 90 per cent of cars to be replaced on the road, eCall might not be mainstream until 2025. By that time, we may have full automation on the road, but this device may still prove useful in the unlikely event of an accident from the self-driving car.

27,500 casualties happened on the road in 2014 throughout Europe, showing there is still a need for these new safety features. Some regulators are still against the idea of making it mandatory, but the European Automobile Manufacturers Association welcomed the integration of eCall in cars.