back to article Europe's prang-phone-in-every-car to cost €5m per life saved

Members of the European Parliament are backing calls for a mandatory eCall scheme, forcing every car sold in Europe to be fitted with an embedded mobile communications device to save an estimated 2,500 lives. The European Commission has already adopted eCall, which mandates the fitting of a mobile device in every private car …

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  1. Steve Evans

    Nanny state...

    I'm sure the emergency services will be overjoyed to hear of every little knock.

    When I took my driving lessons I was told you ring the police and report accidents. When the inevitable finally happened, I rang the police.

    "Is anyone hurt?" - "No"

    "Are the vehicles off the highway?" - "Yes"

    "Thank you, goodbye"

    1. Miek
      Linux

      Re: Nanny state...

      I was under the impression that the Police are not to be called unless there has been an injury or there is a traffic obstruction. Other than that you should exchange insurance details.

      1. JP19

        Re: Nanny state...

        "Police are not to be called"

        Most 'accidents' are the result of careless if not reckless driving, so you would think the police should be interested regardless of injuries being caused (this time).

        But, no, far too much hassle and paperwork when you nick fish in a barrel from the back of your camera van with computers doing all the work.

    2. Voland's right hand Silver badge
      Devil

      Re: Nanny state...

      The emergency services are already called to more or less every knock where the airbag is activated (which is likely to be the trigger indicator to invoke this system in most vehicles).

      So this is not much different.

      1. Mad Mike
        FAIL

        Re: Nanny state...

        I'm not sure what the figures are, but there are a lot of accidents where the airbag doesn't deploy. It is designed specifically to only go off under certain circumstances, as otherwise, it is itself dangerous. So, if this is the trigger, many accidents will result in no alarm being raised. Particularly bad when this system will encourage people who witness the accident to assume emergency services have been informed.

        Not sure how they will design a system that can adequately detect and determine when the emergency services need calling. Either a lot of accidents won't result in a call, negating the point of the system, or else, it will go off every 5 minutes. Stupid, absolutely stupid. I'm absolutely sure the police and others think this is a stupid idea as their workload will shoot up. As stated by someone earlier, only accidents resulting in an injury or obstuction require the police to be informed and I'm sure they'd like to keep it that way!!

        1. Maxson

          Re: Nanny state...

          How about a button and a speaker that, upon detection asks you to press the button in the next minute to avoid the automated call? That way, if you're incapacitated the call is made, if you're not, you press a button.

          See, how that wasn't rocket surgery.

          1. Mad Mike

            Re: Nanny state...

            @Maxson.

            Now, I'm pretty sure you haven't ever dealt with control systems......

            Theory is easy here, it's the practical implementation that is an issue. You suggestion sounds good, but is very flawed. Firstly, people will get really fed up with it happening all the time. Secondly, you now have a mechanical switch that has to be crash proof (in the sense that it mustn't make the contact during crash. This is surprisingly hard!!). Thirdly, if you've ever had anything to do with anti-virus or firewall software, you will know this type of system doesn't really work well. Do you know how many people press continue when a red flashing warning comes up from an anti-virus or firewall product? Huge numbers. People will continue past all sorts of warnings. There was work done and people will even press buttons to cancel this sort of call when actually injured!! It's been shown. This is because they do it all the time (due to the false alarms) and therefore just do it automatically. I suppose you could have another switch for a manual alert as well, but things start getting complicated.

            The truth is that practice and thoery are a world apart in this sort of thing.

            1. Field Marshal Von Krakenfart
              Black Helicopters

              Re: Nanny state...

              Why is this a nanny state issue?

              I'd be more interested is knowing who has been paying for the lobbying of this "initiative"

              Any one got any ideas????????

              1. chr0m4t1c

                @Field Marshal Von Krakenfart

                >Any one got any ideas????????

                Probably VO2Everywhere Telekom.

            2. Hugh McIntyre

              Re: Nanny state...

              If this works the same way as a system like OnStar or the stuff in BMWs and similar cars, then after a crash the car will call the service centre, and a human person will come on the phone saying "do you need assistance". So no sending of ambulances unless they are needed. Also no reliance on buttons liable to fail.

            3. Allan George Dyer
              Facepalm

              Re: Nanny state...

              @Mad Mike - I'm imagining a concussed and bleeding driver reaching up to press the flashing button from force of habit...

          2. Dave 150

            Re: Nanny state...

            a sort of panic button for hit and run drivers?

          3. King Jack
            Childcatcher

            Re: Nanny state...

            How about saving money and not putting this spy in the car? For it to work it would need GPS or maybe tower triangulation to give your location. This is just a stealth way to spy on people. I see it being deployed in the UK with full backing of the government.

        2. cs94njw

          Re: Nanny state...

          Ahha - but if you combine this with the results of the Tricorder competition:

          http://www.theregister.co.uk/2012/01/13/build_star_trek_tricorder_please_ask_x_prize/

          You'd have a system which calls the ambulance if a seat belt is done up, but there's no heart beat.

      2. Hairy Spod

        Re: Nanny state...

        ...if you have a fancy BMW or similar which already contains all the cellular equipment

        try ramming a low end car into a tree and see how quickly help comes.

      3. Richard 116

        Re: Nanny state...

        I believe my car has this system in place already. It's my understanding that in the event of the airbags being deployed/crash sensors being activated the car makes a call using a built in phone. If there is no answer or if help is requested the emergency services are contacted. This service along with some others is free from first registration for three years.

        Luckily I've had no need to try it...

    3. Amorous Cowherder
      Facepalm

      Re: Nanny state...

      Just what I was thinking!

      I once drove out of my driveway ( a couple of weeks after passing my test ) , smacked into a concrete post at 10 mph and did £600 damage to my car. That would not have been very funny to see a Police car and an ambulance tearing down my street to find me, very red faced with my wife shouting at me for being such a complete prat and not paying attention!

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Nanny state...

        Some years ago, after a particularly hard day, I was trickling out of the car park at work and realised that I hadn't got my pass ready, Fished about for it, but the car continued to trickle forward and ran into the ground fitted raised steel barrier. The airbag would have gone off, but in fact I'd changed the wheel for one without an airbag. It was a Subaru Impreza and . when I put the original wheel back to sell the car. I noticed the airbag warning light was on all the time. A piece of black sticky tape inside the instrument panel soon fixed this little issue. Had to get a new bumper too. There, I've admitted it, and I feel much better now.

        But the sooner the MEPs are emasculated, the better...

    4. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Nanny state...

      They're extending it to motorcycles. A couple of weeks back I went camping with my motorbike and the ground was so soft that despite putting a load spreader under the side stand it gently rolled over onto the grass. Nice soft landing, no damage done, so when I came back and found it I picked it up and put a large bit of wood under the stand.

      Since motorbikes have no air bags I guess the system phones emergency services when the bike goes horizontal. So there's my bike on its own in the middle of a field calling the emergency services. No rider present to tell them it's a false alarm, so they're going to come tearing to the rescue fearing the worst. Oh well, maybe the ambulance man could save me from the risk of back strain by helping me pick the bike up!

      I like the theoretical idea of having an automatic call out as I lie incapacitated in the middle of nowhere following a major crash, but I fear that in practice anywhere remote enough to not have a passer by will also lack cellular coverage. So in practice this is going to waste a lot of emergency resources, and if it's tied into the insurance system I'm not going to be able to afford the impact on my premiums of parking my motorbike in soft fields :-(

      1. Anonymous Coward 15

        Re: Nanny state...

        It'll call them to an incident where there was no sudden deceleration and the engine was stopped gracefully by turning and removing the key, half an hour ago?

  2. Ken Hagan Gold badge

    How reliable is this?

    Forgive me from being a little dense but how does the accelerometer in this box know that a particular crunch is associated with life-threatening injuries? Does it just issue false positives to the emergency services, which I'm fairly sure people have been prosecuted for in the past?

    1. Shonko Kid
      Holmes

      The same way the air bags do?

      1. Mad Mike
        FAIL

        AirBag activation

        About the worst thing imaginable as a trigger for the device, is the airbag. If you ever attend or see accidents, there are a large number of accidents where the airbag never deploys, including some very serious ones. There are also trivial little shunts where they do. This system will simply result in either loads of false positives, stressing and pissing off the police, or a failure to call at some major accidents. Either way, complete fail. As passers by will also assume the police have been called, this could easily lead to more deaths.

        P.S.

        I had a woman hit me in a Fiat. She hit head on at a low angle into the side of the car. Hit the rear wheel arch and was turned nearly 180 degrees to follow me down the road. Closing speed somewhere around 50mph. Did her airbag deploy? Nope. Was she injured? Yes. A brand new car and written off due to the damage to the front. Using the above process, epic fail.

        1. Voland's right hand Silver badge
          Devil

          Re: AirBag activation

          1. Women + Fiat. Let me guess - a petite.

          Fiat is notorious for not having their airbags activate if the "weight sensor" under the seat decides that you have a kid in it. There was at least one recall on the Stilo and a few on others for the same reason (the limit on the Stilo being set to values where it throws an airbag fault for any smaller size adult).

          2. There are _LOTS_ of sensors in a car (including said sensors for weight which are regularly faulty in some Fiats) which override the airbag deployment - belts, door closure, etc. The fact that the car did not deploy the airbag does not mean it did not detect the crash so if the cellular notification takes input from the crash detector _PRIOR_ to any of the specific airbag overrides it may still be useful and reliable.

          1. Mad Mike
            Thumb Down

            Re: AirBag activation

            OK. That's just one example I've seen. There are many, many more. Firstly, this was a while ago before things like weight sensors were routinely fitted and airbags were much simpler. Secondly, if she was light enough, it wouldn't have gone off for me. Thirdly, it was a perfect airbag deployment scenario and believe me, she wished it had gone off!! Finally, no sensor is ever going to get it right often enough to be relied upon by itself. First and golden rule of SCADA control systems etc. Something I deal with and know about. You either have to use multiple cross-related sensors in complex combinations, or accept it won't always work right. That, is exactly why there are still people in control rooms etc. for power stations etc.

          2. Richard Bragg
            WTF?

            Re: AirBag activation

            1) Why put such a sensor in the drivers seat? You don't put child seats there or I hope not.

      2. PatientOne

        Air bag systems don't detect side impact (unless you have SIPS) so you need a more extensive system to monitor for side impacts (which are more dangerous than front or rear impacts, especially as human necks are more vulnerable to that kind of force).

        So, if you're putting in side impact detection, you might as well put in SIPS, too, adding a bit more to the expense.

        This is not a bad thing, of cause, but it will also increase the weight of the car, and the power drain to run the system, and so will affect economy... which is the bane of the modern car: More safety systems =greater drain on the power plant (engine) = more fuel burned and less drive power = worse economy from a supposedly improved engine.

        I thought we were supposed to be pushing for improved economy to save the planet or something... and that reducing the population would help achieve this...

        Ah, well...

      3. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Shirley

        You mean FUNBAGS!

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Airbags

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/CAN_bus#Automotive

      The modern car is already a hive of control units and sensors, all interconnected on CANBUS, a twisted pair system, low speed communications (non-drive train related like climate control, windows and locks etc) are tolerant to a physical break in the bus. Packets are sent from sensors and received by all controllers which in turn decide if the data is pertinent to them. A mobile comms system would just be placed on the bus and would make us of a lot of data - has a large number of engine variables gone haywire at the same time as an increase in the resistance of the rear window de-mister? Is the car upside down? Did the driver leave the seat whilst the car was running and in gear and travelling at 30Mph? GPS- is the car on a road?

      1. TeeCee Gold badge

        Re: Airbags

        CANBUS: A.k.a. the reason that a seemingly trivial electrical fault has a nasty habit of turning a modern vehicle into a write-off.

        The problem here is that with no discrete circuit for each component, you are totally reliant on the diagnostic readouts to tell you which of the multifarious bits are causing the error. If the diagnostics do not have a code for the particular combination of fuckups that are actually occurring[1], you are SOL in finding the problem.

        [1] Worst case scenario here is that the diagnostics throw a code that's nothing to do with the component actually at fault. To the uneducated it will look as if your garage is replacing expensive components at random in the hope of a fix. What's actually going on is that they're addressing each meaningless fault code as it's thrown.

        1. Raz

          Re: Airbags @TeeCee

          Technically it's not a CANbus problem, more like bad programming on the car manufacturer's part. We use CANbus in a non-automobile application and find it just fine.

    3. NightFox

      Re: How reliable is this?

      Don't all modern cars already have a system whereby in a serious collision the fuel supply is automatically cut off? Surely you just use the same trigger?

      1. Mad Mike

        Re: How reliable is this?

        I'm not sure if all do, but certainly quite a lot do. I suggest you have a look on the web for people really annoyed by them and how they either go off when not required, or don't when they are. Another good theory, but rather different in practice. There is often some sort of manual override for them as well, as often its a combined shock/orientation sensor and I've heard of them going off through hitting a pothole. Not sure how good it is having the fuel supply cut whilst driving!!

  3. Aldous
    Black Helicopters

    neat

    a mobile in every car or to put it another way a free tracking device factory fitted in every new eu vehicle. this is not going to be abused by "terrorism" laws at all eh?

    1. cocknee
      FAIL

      Re: neat

      why do they need to bother - most of us already have at least one mobile phone which they can use and also a tracking device can be placed on a car if they really are interested in you.

    2. Kevin Turvey
      FAIL

      Re: neat

      If you think a mobile fitted in a car is a tracking device most of us are already carrying one and tracking the person is probably a lot more useful to whoever than tracking the car. If you're carrying your mobile you can be tracked whether on foot or in a car.

      1. Mad Mike
        Big Brother

        Re: neat

        Depends on what the monitoring is for. Even politicians wouldn't suggest people be road charged for walking as well.........

        Oh god, I think I've given them an idea!!

  4. Volker Hett

    They have

    monitoring and tracking devices anywhere on public places and in public transport, now they want this in our cars .....

  5. Tony Barnes
    Facepalm

    Yey another way for beaurocrats to justify their meaningless existence!!!

    Seriously, this sort of crap needs to stop. This is legislation for the sake of legislation.

    If the figures in the article are close, or at least vagulely ballpark, £5m per person is a frankly stupid value placed on human life - there are already way too many of us anyway. Also I presume the costs will be passed on to drivers?

    Oh, obviously this is before we open that Pandoras box that allowing the government to force a monitoring system into legislation generates. Surely this breaches some sort of civil right?

    At the end of the day our roads are pretty damn safe. The biggest problem on our roads is, and always will be, people who lack the basic skills required to drive properly, conscientiously, and at a pace that actually equates to people getting where they need to. As and when the human aspect is removed from cars, safety will rocket - until of course a massive trojan distribution cause every car to go all 'Christine' one day....

    1. Mad Mike
      Unhappy

      Re: Yey another way for beaurocrats to justify their meaningless existence!!!

      Thinking beyond the obvious, this has only one real reason.........road charging. If they can track your car, they can tax you per mile etc. Another brilliant tax raising measure implemented under health and safety pretext. Brilliant.

      1. This post has been deleted by its author

      2. proto-robbie
        Holmes

        Re: Yey another way for beaurocrats to justify their meaningless existence!!!

        @Mad Mike: It's there already, and it's called Fuel Duty.

        1. Mad Mike

          Re: Yey another way for beaurocrats to justify their meaningless existence!!!

          @proto-robbie.

          Guess you haven't been watching the news for years then. They want to have road charging. Price per km/mile depending on time of day etc.etc. Don't say whether this is in additional or replacement for fuel duty.

          I don't disagree with you that fuel duty is perfectly sensible and actually green as the more you use the more you pay. But, the government wants road charging for whatever reason.

      3. Anonymous Coward 101

        Re: Yey another way for beaurocrats to justify their meaningless existence!!!

        "If they can track your car, they can tax you per mile"

        Christ, imagine if they were not only able to do that, but were also able to increase your tax proportionally if your car had high emissions.

        Oh yeah, it's called fuel tax.

        1. Mad Mike

          Re: Yey another way for beaurocrats to justify their meaningless existence!!!

          Yep. A hideously expensive and wasteful way of doing something you can already do much easier. For another example, look at smart energy meters and the £10-12billion rollout cost. People make the mistake of looking for the sense in these things before remembering they're from politicians!!

    2. Velv
      WTF?

      Re: Yey another way for beaurocrats to justify their meaningless existence!!!

      I remember seeing somewhere that the airline industry (i.e. US FAA) uses a figure of around $2.5million per passenger before it mandates any new safety improvements to aircraft. Not sure how that scales to total cost, but next time you die in a plane crash you know how much your family should be asking for in compensation.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Yey another way for beaurocrats to justify their meaningless existence!!!

      "there are already way too many of us anyway"

      So you're leaving, then? 'Bye

  6. Voland's right hand Silver badge
    Devil

    Wrong numbers

    The 100£ assumes nothing is in the car, not even a factory fitted stereo. Sorry, that is utter b***s.

    For an average low-end car with a stereo sans GPS and sans 3G with some sort of stereo the incremental should be under 50£. This is roughly what it will cost to replace the stereo controls with Android or some embedded clone of Windows, add a limited SIM and basic GPS and connect the "active" indicator from the airbags control unit to a GPIO pin.

    This cost drops to zero going upmarket. The ~50 is for todays equivalent of Peugeout 106 (or whatever the cheap model of the sole manufacturer obstinate to install Eu recommended safety features without a regulatory mandate).

    The moment you go up from there the incremental cost to the stereo drops rapidly to zero as it is likely to be Android driven anyway, have traffic updates anyway and as you go in the upper half of the market have GPS anyway. This directive will simply accelerate this a bit.

    The math is also broken - while you may save only 2500 lives you are also likely to reduce dramatically various costs across the medical systems by having a trauma team in place and in time even for less critical injuries. So you also have benefit for lives "improved", not just those saved.

    The only people who will be bummering here are the mobile operators which have to deal with a few tens of millions of SIMs (including roaming) in continental Europe. However, once again - this cost goes to zero upmarket because the units will be using a service anyway.

    1. tony72
      Stop

      Re: Wrong numbers

      I disagree. For this scheme to work, it really has to be a self-contained unit, so your assumption of being able to do piecemeal integration with the other ICE kit is not necessarily valid at all.

      Also, once something gets that government-mandated, must-be-fitted, approved-suppliers-only tag, it is practically guaranteed to cost a lot more than it needs to, so your assumption that the price will drop is also probably invalid.

      1. Mad Mike
        FAIL

        Re: Wrong numbers

        The idea of simply attaching the activation to the airbag is stupid and ludicrous. There are so many accidents (many serious) where they don't deploy, it defies belief. The activation method will either cause a huge number of false positives or will fail to go off sometimes. Either way, fail.

    2. The Axe
      Headmaster

      Re: Wrong numbers

      Your figures are wrong.

      It'll be a seperate box. It will need to be so that steros and other in car kit can be upgraded as needed without affecting the box. As to cost reduction due to mass production, probably but car manufacturers already try and save any penny so €100 or €50 or €10 is still too much. Don't forget they'll need to design the car to accept it, install it, wire it up, test it, etc.

      As for saving lives, costs might reduce a bit for the hospitals, but a broken bone is still a broken bone no which will be the vast majority of medical issues. And it might increase costs because trauma teems are called to incidents by the automatic system when they might not be needed. The system will need to have lots of false positives otherwise someone might die because the system didn't call for help.

      Overall, a lot of expense to save a few lives. Look at the train industry. They work out safety systems on the basis of a life being worth about £3m and that is one industry which uses very high values.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Wrong numbers

        "The system will need to have lots of false positives otherwise someone might die because the system didn't call for help."

        Not to mention the real emergency calls that go unanswered for lack of resources while dealing with the false positives.

      2. Ellis Birt 1

        Re: Wrong numbers

        Not only will it need to be a separate box, it will need to be completely self-contained with a back-up power supply and completely ruggedised and fire-proof (while maintaining a transparency to RF signals).

        It cannot use existing GPS or sensors because they, or the wiring may be damaged in the accident. Locating the device might also prove difficult. It will need to be able to see as much of the sky as possible whatever orientation the car is in. Mounting on or near the roof will be useless if the car ends up upside-down.

        And what about the areas of Europe that have no cellular coverage?

        Nothing less than an EPIRB with its Satellite monitoring infrastructure will really fit the bill. Okay, when Gallileo is active, that may be able to support such an emergency call system, but I, for one, would rather see that reserved for maritime distress!

        1. Jess--

          Re: Wrong numbers

          it can use existing gps kit in a car, and the gps kit does not have to survive the impact... only the item sending the message needs to survive.

          if you think about it this way... if you have just hit (or been hit by) something hard enough to trigger the system and destroy the gps kit the the last known position will be more than good enough (after all your car isn't likely to be going anywhere afterwards) so a record saying "I was in this position 1 second before impact" is unlikely to vary enough from a record saying "I am in this position 1 second after impact" to make any real difference to emergency services trying to find the accident

      3. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Wrong numbers

        A life saved will probably cost a lot more than a life lost. DOA at hospital has trivial cost. Weeks in the Expensive Care Unit costs a fortune.

        regards,

        A. Cynic

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Wrong numbers

      The 100 euro cost and 2,500 lives saved are the figures being pushed by those who want the system implemented.

      This means you can pretty much guarantee that it will cost more and save less lives than they claim.

    4. Craig Graham 2
      FAIL

      Re: Wrong numbers

      "For an average low-end car with a stereo sans GPS and sans 3G with some sort of stereo the incremental should be under 50£. This is roughly what it will cost to replace the stereo controls with Android or some embedded clone of Windows, add a limited SIM and basic GPS and connect the "active" indicator from the airbags control unit to a GPIO pin."

      You don't work with automotive systems do you? Just because a basic Android phone can be made from bin scraping components, it doesn't follow you can make an in-car system for that money. Quite the opposite - there's a vast amount of legislation you have to comply with for automotive systems, and you have to use automotive grade components - ie. much more expensive - check out the unit pricing for a typical factory fit ECU in the auto industry - they're not cheap, especially the ones that have a connection to the CANBUS subnet carrying critical telemetry information (like, the sort of information the engine management system uses, and the steering assist uses, and the fly-by-wire throttle uses, and the adaptive suspension uses, and the airbag uses). Then factor in the RF immunity requirements, the standby current drain, license requirements for a CAN stack from one of the mandated safety critical suppliers (KPIT, etc) - suddenly, it's not a cheap item at all. The stereo head unit tends to get let off slightly more generously, as it's not considered a safety critical item - but this system will fall into the same bracket as the airbags, and will cost similar amounts.

      For the record though, I think it's a waste of time, effort and an epic fail from a safety perspective - much more about road charging and making it easier to prosecute speeding (just think - the feel of an average speed camera zone, but everywhere... hands up the people without cruise control who find that safer?).

      (and won't work - how many of us have actually managed to keep any sort of data connection up reliably on ANY UK motorway - even the M25 round London has spotty coverage, and if you plan to head further afield, you might as well forget it)

    5. PatientOne

      Re: Wrong numbers

      Voland's Right hand: I think you are sadly mistaken.

      They require a new style of rugged (crash proof) phone to be wired into sensors that will trigger it in the event of an accident to connect to a network and transmit the details to the waiting system that will then notify the emergency service. It will not be a phone wired into the car that will call 999 on an impact, or a re-purposed stereo system or GPS system, none of which needs to be rugged.

      There will be no subsidy and no competition for this device: Each car manufacturer will be fitting the system of their choice, not yours, so will charge you what they want, not what you would prefer to pay. The cost of the supporting network also needs taking into account for that will also not be cheap. In all, €100 is an underestimation of the actual cost, especially if you consider the cost of adding side impact sensors to a car that otherwise does not have them, or any other sensor they deem is required to reliably trigger the system.

      So, I recon the MINIMUM cost will be €100 (please note it was '€' in the article, not '£').

      1. EvilGav 1
        FAIL

        Re: Wrong numbers

        As others have stated, you assume that the component can be made as cheap as your average Android phone*. It can probably actually be made cheaper, since it doesn't have to do anything like what your smart-phone does.

        However, here's the big thing that makes it expensive - it still has to work after the vehicle has been involved in a crash at +70mph. The vast majority of items on the car do not have to do this - deform and save the occupants yes, but not still work after that sort of impact. It has to keep working no matter how badly damaged the vehicle it's in is, that means needing redundant power-sources, redundant aeriels etc etc etc.

        The question is - how did they come to the conclusion that such a device would save this many lives?

        * why would you use Android anyway? The generally agreed most reliable *phone* is the Nokia 3310, you don't need anything more than a 2G connection to make a call and/or send a text message.

  7. I think so I am?
    Devil

    Normal prank in 10 years

    Walk into a car park with a baseball bat, smack the front of every car in a line, one after the other.

    All call the emergency services - looks like a multi-car pile up.

    1. Voland's right hand Silver badge
      Devil

      Re: Normal prank in 10 years

      Not if the unit is active only with the key in the ignition which is likely to be the case if the unit is integrated with the car stereo/dashboard.

      1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

        Re: Normal prank in 10 years

        So if you are hit while parked, or on the hard shoulder fixing a tire - no ambulance for you!

        1. Mad Mike

          Re: Normal prank in 10 years

          I did think of this, but I assume they would expect the person hitting to make the call. Rather than depends though. Will these systems also detect a driver running someone over (rather than car v car action) and if so, give them the right to cancel and flee?

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Normal prank in 10 years

      ...A multi-car pile up in a car park? And when the police arrive (which would be fairly quickly if the system works as advertised) and find a car park full of dented cars and you with a baseball bat, exactly how long do you think it would take them to jump to the right conclusion?

      1. Mad Mike
        FAIL

        Re: Normal prank in 10 years

        If the police turn up fast enough to catch you, I'll eat my hat. They'll be too busy responding to the millions of other false positives. Stupid, stupid idea. Technology for technologies sake. Also, gives them monitoring of peoples location and a cost free way of introducing road charging. Brilliant!!

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    ....or it is a way of reducing whip lash claims. How does that stack up against the 12.5 billion euro cost?

  9. xyz Silver badge

    This is seriously old news

    Most fleets have this type of software built into their cars as an add on at the moment...so all you need add is a prang-o-meter and a server upgrade for the requisite batphone call.

    And..my merc came with the option for this cobblerswhen I ordered it about 10 years ago

  10. Doozer
    Alert

    1984 here we come

    I like technology, I use technology, I make money like most readers of el-reg, but this is another one that scares me.

    When the tech is in the car, what is to say that they wont pass a new law which demands monitoring of all movement to be held in a datacenter for 3 years and available to police / security with a court order etc. If there is probable cause, then they switch on call recording etc.

    Im really beginning to see parallels of 1984 in the things we do in our every day lives.

    1. Steve Renouf
      FAIL

      Re: 1984 here we come

      Not to mention the remote speeding fines... 3 strikes and insurance quadruples... etc., etc.

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Up

    Back in the 80's scaremongers were claiming that the cost of fitting seatbelts was going to price cars out of the hands of many people. The same occured again when airbags went from being a paid for extra to mandatory.

    Despite those dire warnings the number of registered cars in the UK, private and company, has grown from 20 million in the mid-90's to over 30 million today.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      In the UK there is no mandatory legal requirement for new cars to be fitted with airbags

  12. Steen Eugen Poulsen

    This is what make EU different from US, we value life, they value money.

    1. Code Monkey

      If you want to save lives I'm sure there are better ways to spend the money (i.e. something that saves 2 lives per €5m is twice as good and so on).

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        eh?

        So all cars carry one passenger do they? Right. ...

        If the car buyer has to pay an extra $100 on the price of the car for something that might get emergency services out faster after a serious collision...... I don't see the problem. At all.

  13. g e
    Holmes

    in the UK, our roads are already among the safest in the world

    Not that you'd think it, based on how much we're raped for car insurance by fat opera singers and their ilk.

  14. jai

    who's paying for this?

    ringing up a €12.5bn bill

    is the EU going to be paying for this then? or will the car manufacturers just be adding €200 to the cost of each vehicle and then keeping half of it for themselves?

    1. Matthew Hale

      Re: who's paying for this?

      $100-$200 on top of the price of a car is utterly f*cking irrelevant.... I think anyway... If I'm spending 20,000 or so, why would I care about that tiny surplus for a device which may well save my (and my families) life?

  15. Ragarath
    Alert

    Integrety amoungst people

    Well, the tracking to show who is at fault is something that is needed in this day and age (privacy is dealt with down the post).

    Over the last 3 years or so I have been hit 3 times, each time the other party said to their insurance it was not them. Lots of wasted time (because the insurance company dos not investigate they just want your money) and I managed to prove it was the other parties fault. One was even a rear shunt and he said it was not them. This is why I pay insurance, not for me to do all the leg work and still have to pay them a fortune.

    If there is no one else witness, and the party responsible says it was not them then the insurance companies do nothing / can do nothing (this is what my insurance company told me). This is why we need some sort of accident tracking system.

    But the privacy invasion is something that needs to be kept in check. Why can the system for tracking the fault not be a black box system like on planes? Then the data can only be retrieved manually after the event and not over the air. Just the fact there has been an accident is reported with the severity (if the system is capable of that).

    1. Mad Mike
      FAIL

      Re: Integrety amoungst people

      I agree this is an issue, but there are far better, cheaper (or at least no more) ways of doing this. You can install a camera in the front (behind rear view mirror) and back windows which records a few minutes of action. When an event occurs, it stops recording on the loop and you can download the video and show the car (including number plate and often even drivers face) driving into you!! Far better. This system will only show someone is there, not whose fault it is. In the case of a rear end shunt, it will always be the one behind, but there are many occasions when it is not so clear cut. Having film of the incident adds greater to the clarity.

  16. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    "voluntary adoption has been derisory"

    Please take that as a hint that we don't want this, and go away to work on some other terrible proposal.

  17. JeffyPooh
    Pint

    One more thing...

    Such a mandate would only accelerate the assignment of telephone numbers thereby using them up faster. Thus Europe would more quickly find itself being forced to revamp their entire telephone network to introduce 27-digit dialing for local calls (perhaps a slight exaggeration). It could cost hundreds of billions to accommodate a telephone number in every vehicle.

    Also, phones embedded in cars typically incur a monthly charge. The telcos don't normally provide service for free. This is one reason why the trend has been away from embedded car phones and towards BlueTeeth links to one's one-and-only mobile phone carried in one's pocket (one monthly bill vice two).

    Also, such systems will have a requirement that they keep working even after a major crash. Those that suggest that this can be done with cheap hardware are not accounting for this type of technical requirement that would obviously be defined and imposed.

    1. Mad Mike

      Re: One more thing...

      Not sure why the downvote. This is absolutely true. 999 calls are made over a phone 'line' that has already been paid for by monthly cost or pay as you go etc. So, the cost is simply in the call, which can be accomodated by the phone companies. However, this system would require a new phone line dedicated to the purpose and who's paying for that? Are the mobile phone companies going to be happy providing millions of free phone numbers, the 'lines' and calls? I suggest not. I suspect the car might not just cost more, but come with a monthly fee as well!!

      The requirement to keep the system working after a crash would require, amongst other things, built-in battery power, not just a reliance on the car battery. Therefore, as these mobile phone batteries have a distinct lifespan (anywhere up to 3 years) and generally don't like being continually charged without also being rundown, there will be additional maintenance costs as well replacing them.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: One more thing...

        As far as I'm aware, there are quite a few engineers at Peugeot Citroën, BMW, Daimler, and probably other manufacturers who have been getting paid for quite some time to work on this technology. The social merits of which notwithstanding.

        Now, assuming for a moment that you may be a developer or be employed in some other occupation which has a creative / design component, how would you feel if someone went "bleh, this idiot got it all wrong, blah blah blah", based on a journalist's report taken from a press release written by a PR type based on the words of a politician who was briefed once by someone else about your creation / design? You would probably think something along the lines of "what a tosser!", wouldn't you?

        I do apologise and will happily retract my comment if in fact you do have intimate knowledge of the technical details of the system, you just haven't made that clear so far.

        If you would allow me to illustrate my point: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3wHKBavY_h8

        1. Mad Mike
          Thumb Down

          Re: One more thing...

          @AC. I think you're reading another post. I never said they were stupid, idiots or anything in the posting you're responding to. I was merely trying to point out some of the issues that would have to be addressed and dealt with. Maybe they have, maybe they haven't.

          However, I am in development type of arena (in terms of creating solutions to problems) and I know that many solutions are actually solutions to problems that don't really exist, for which there is an easier answer or required solely by sales. Rarely is something developed solely on its own merits to solve an identified and relavent problem. Peugeot, Citroen etc. will be developing this as something to make money from. All companies do that. Companies are not (with a few exceptions) there for the benefit of humanity, but to make a profit. If the EU gives them a way of making money, sure they will support and develop solutions to it, whether it's worthwhile, sensible or not. It makes money!! Job done.

          I don't have technical details of this sort of system, but I know there is a vast difference between developing something to make peoples life easier (current phone in car technologies pretty much) and a mission critical system where issues cause loss of life or serious injury. I work on systems around this area.

    2. JeffyPooh
      Pint

      Re: One more thing...

      Me again.

      My car (Mercedes E class) has this sort of airbag triggered SOS call feature built in. It's not a cheap and cheerful $50 option as some have suggested. As a guess, it's probably many hundreds of dollars (difficult to separate it out) - there was an update a few years ago to make it work with network changes (for previous model years) as the older cell phone network was turned off.

      It would also require a monthly fee for the service, which is why I can't be bothered paying extra for it. It's similar to the GM OnStar service. Includes concierge services if you wish.

      As far as I know, the system has some sort of built in back up power supply so that it'll still make the call after a massive crash. The main battery is in the trunk, so maybe that helps. I'm not sure if it'll still work after a 250 kmh crash... ...I don't plan to try.

      Cheers.

  18. Shonko Kid
    Black Helicopters

    could cut vehicle thefts also

    It'd be trivial to have this device report it's location via text message - on receipt of a valid security token obviously.

    1. Code Monkey
      Trollface

      Re: could cut vehicle thefts also

      It'd be trivial to get it to talk to the 4sp API as well. And you just know some bastard is going to do it!

    2. AOD
      Unhappy

      Re: could cut vehicle thefts also

      If only life were that simple...

      Several tracker type gizmos can report vehicle location via GSM, however the thieving scrotes just carry a GSM jammer along for the ride which means they don't have to concern themselves about such things.

      More sophisticated units can detect jamming and will trigger an alert/alarm, but that's normally held as a selling point for the higher end models.

  19. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I know what will be next..

    .. road pricing. The challenge with road prcing is that you need to kit out cars with a fairly standardised design. If that just "happens" to be in place already by an absolutely miraculous coincidence (yeah right), then why not use it?

    There is no way that a device in my car will have the ability to hand off data about me without my permission, even f I have to take a screwdriver to it. Sod that. I'm already seen by a gazillion cameras every day, this really has to stop somewhere because it all happens to always cost the DRIVER money.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: I know what will be next..

      "I'm already seen by a gazillion cameras every day"

      Yup, amongst which those with bar code readers and number plate recognition, which are used today (notably in Central Europe) to check whether you've paid your road tax (a sticker with a barcode is affixed to the windscreen). The concern about feature creep and this being used for tracking would only imply a change in technology rather than the adoption of something which is not already here.

      Interestingly, a while ago I was involved in a police investigation (no, not as the target!) in a South European country and, interestingly and to my surprise, it turns out that none of the cameras at tool booths are recorded--apparently they're only there to aid workers to monitor problems at unattended lanes without having to walk across traffic to reach them. I was also surprised to find how little information the police keep on individuals, unless they have taken a specific interest on someone as part of an ongoing investigation (and even so details are only accessible on a need-to-know basis). I suspect this is not the same in Northern countries--my impression being that southerners value their privacy more (I say this, of course, as an armchair sociologist of great repute amongst my mates down at the pub, so take it for what it's worth).

  20. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    benefits

    Working in the world of Accident investigation (hence anon) I can see a lot of cost savings & benefits for the taxpayer IF certain things are monitored.

    1) Quicker response may well reduce costs in terms of medical attention. The more someone has deteriorated, the higher the cost of fixing them, and the higher the cost of insurance payouts if things aren't fixable and someone else is to blame. Savings on NHS & Insurance.

    2) Evidence gathering. Instead of every time an accident happens the "something must be done" brigade proposing dropping yet another speed limit, spending billions on road changes etc. (Because actually they hate the fact they live by a noisy road), With access to information there may actually be the ability to get a sense of the fact that the accident was caused because the driver is an idiot rather than the road always being to blame. So potentially faster roads and less unnecessary road works and traffic lights.

    Accident recording stuff is already mandatory on ships,planes & trains. Many trucks are also carrying recording tech to help improve fuel efficiency etc. None of the mandatory devices call home (very few even have it as an optional extra). If you're worried about big brother - the phone in your pocket is far more likely to be the problem than a device in your car.

    1. Mad Mike

      Re: benefits

      Mmmm. Evidence gathering. Suggests you're going well beyond just reporting the accident and location. Why not just jam one up my a**e and monitor if I fall over or walk into a wall etc. Same argument.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Good luck....

        ....bleeding out at the wheel down a lonely country lane!

        Just make sure you have a Dashcam so at least we can all watch it on LL ; )

    2. The Axe

      Costs

      Quicker responses tend to increase medical costs. If someone dies there is no medical cost. Now that more people can be saved from quite horrific injuries medical costs have shot through the roof.

      Look at soliders. There was a time when nearly all who were seriously injured died on the field. Now they are brought back and have their lives saved minus a few limbs. Everyone of them will say it was worth it, but was is the cost? Yes because society says so and also because it still way lower than €5/soldier.

      1. Mad Mike

        Re: Costs

        Yep. Quite right. This is actually standard military doctrine. Killing the enemy takes out one person. If you seriously injure them, you take out the person and others down the chain who have to retrieve, treat, look after him etc. Therefore, injured soldiers actually have a bigger effect on the enemy than killed ones, at least if they give a monkeys about them.

        So, saving more people with horific injuries could well cost more. Not politically correct etc., but true. The situation is not as simple and black and white as they make out.

        1. TeeCee Gold badge
          Thumb Up

          Re: Costs

          Spot on, actually reckoned to be about a one to three ratio. Every seriously injured soldier takes the efforts of three full-time people to look after him. That ratio was first hit in the Korean war, with the advent of helicopter Medivac getting troops who would previously have died to the new-fangled MASH units.

          The more serious the injury, the more effort is involved in keeping the poor sod alive and the longer the recovery period, requiring greater investment of care time. Hence the modern deformable nose or "tumbling" bullets of low calibre, which are designed to maim horribly rather than kill.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Costs @ The Axe

        "Quicker responses tend to increase medical costs"

        Don't worry about that, Axe. If you have a prang in the populated parts of the UK, there's usually somebody else to report the prang in a few minutes, so there's no change other than the superfluous cost of "ecall". If on the other hand, you're in part of the UK where there isn't somebody along for half an hour, then you can be fairly sure that mobile coverage will be minimal to non-existent, and there's probably no change other than the superfluous cost of "ecall".

      3. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Costs

        "If someone dies there is no medical cost"

        Not sure if you are trying to joke or just socially dysfunctional, but to answer purely the technical argument, dead people do in fact incur non-negligible medical (and of course social) costs.

        Besides, how would you feel about living in a world where a price tag is hung over your right to stay alive? Hopefully your family, friends, colleagues, first-responders, other health-care personnel, and society at large do not share your point of view, should you ever suffer life-threatening injury.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          @AC 13.34

          If you think you are NOT living in a world where a price tag is hung over your right to stay alive you are kidding yourself. Cost benefit analysis is applied to all areas where public safety or survival has to be considered, and not just to transport. Healthcare is a good example, otherwise there would be a full A&E hospital in every small town and village. Another would be why you don't see individual seatbelts and airbags and a complete prohibition on standing on trains, high cost against low chance of accident.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: @AC 13.34

            "@AC 13.34" (that's me, I think)

            "If you think you are NOT living in a world where a price tag is hung over your right to stay alive you are kidding yourself."

            Yes, of course you're right. As it happens, I'm an ex-EMT and have another professional qualification in a safety critical industry where the cost/incidence equation is very much present. From that experience, I am comforted by the knowledge that such cost is sensibly high and going up not down, even in spite of all the recent cuts.

            Having experienced the crude reality of accidents in a professional capacity, I say may it long stay like that, notwithstanding the abundance of dysfunctional idiots who sit in front of a computer screen and watch gory videos to bring some excitement into their sad lives. Perhaps they should be sent to e.g., Central America or West Central Africa to gain an appreciation for what cheapening the cost of life entails.

        2. Mad Mike

          Re: Costs

          @AC. The unfortunate truth (whether we like it or not), is that a cost is attributable to a life. This will vary from person to person according to all sorts of attributes. Whilst everyone would like to think that their life is beyond value and any amount will be spent to keep them alive, simply looking at the NHS proves the lie to that. People are regularly denied treatment on the grounds it is not cost effective. Someone is taking a decision that £x is not worth an additional y months of life or the z chance of being cured. Lives have price tags assigned to them and whilst not a pleasant thought, anything else is fantasy.

      4. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Costs

        Yes... true. In China it is fascinating to see road traffic accidents... quite often the party at fault will try to delay emergency services in the hope the victim dies, as if they do not, and the injuries are significant and debilitating they will have to pay for the rest of that persons life. Very different system they have out there!

        [example : hxxp://www.liveleak.com/view?i=941_1341324774]

    3. Flatpackhamster
      Thumb Down

      Re: benefits

      I can turn the phone in my pocket off.

    4. PatientOne

      Re: benefits

      1) Very true. The sooner medical aid arrives, the better the prognosis for the casualty.

      2) Erm, the proposed system will not provide any benefit to evidence gathering. A car camera would, and the engine management system would as would the application of mk 1 eyeball and something that is proving very rare: Common sense. The problem is most investigators are just too lazy or disinterested to do a proper job. If they were not, then they would catch a lot more fraudulent claims rather than leave it to others to challenge the claim and prove it false.

  21. Anonymous Coward
    Facepalm

    alternate solution

    I'll happily take £4m, the eurocrats can keep the £1m change and I'll promise never to drive again. There, saved you a million on me and I can't be killed in my own car. Super easy to implement too.

  22. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Step 2: Wire the phone to the ECU for Kill Switch SMS Lulz

    Frog Boiling Continues

  23. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Article Quality

    I have given this article a low rating for not including any references whatsoever to the information being reported. Now I can see that it's a rehash of the European Parliament's press release from two days ago, which can be found here: http://www.europarl.europa.eu/news/en/pressroom/content/20120703IPR48185/html/Life-saving-emergency-eCall-system-should-be-mandatory-say-MEPs

    For those (few?) interested on what was actually proposed, the text of the relevant plenary session (3-Jul-2012) can be found here, as a Word document: http://www.europarl.europa.eu/sides/getDoc.do?pubRef=-//EP//NONSGML+TA+20120703+SIT+DOC+WORD+V0//EN&language=EN (eCall bit starts on page 241), and the relevant background, the so-called Sehnalova-Koch report, is here: http://www.europarl.europa.eu/meetdocs/2009_2014/organes/imco/imco_20120618_1530.htm

    As for the author regaling us with his point of view (based on what if I may ask? a press release?), just give me the data so I can make up my own mind, thank you.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Article Quality

      Thanks for the links, but the Sehnalova-Koch report disn't appear particularly enlightening, other than the eurocrats think this is a great idea. Whilst following the logic of the "golden hour" idea, is there any clear evidence that this will actually save lives based on credible analysis of pilot schemes involving reasonable scale, and on a basis that is applicable territory by territory?

      So I suppose I'm asking the same question "give me the data so I can make my own mind up". But as the EU has decided we should all have this, maybe we shouldn't worry about the evidence as they've already made the decision for us.

      1. Mad Mike

        Re: Article Quality

        The golden hour is a well known and proven medical concept. It's true for anyone injured and is current practice in Afghanistan and one of the reason why a chinook is used for injured soldiers. Get's the medics there quickly and then everyone back to the hospital. However, keeping people alive has a cost, just as much as people dying!!

  24. kevjs

    reduce false positives...

    When triggered why not have it call the car itself first, if there is no answer within 30 seconds or they say help! It dials 112, otherwise it just sends a text to a non emergency number (for catching hit and runs for example), presumably you would want the 112 operator to talk to the person if possible to attain the appropriate response

    1. Richard 116
      Thumb Up

      Re: reduce false positives...

      Everyone seems a little more interested in black helicopters and cries of 'Big Brother!' than paying any attention to sensible suggestions such as yours. A similar and non-compulsory system is already in place (in my car for example) and I described it in my post on page one. The emergency signal from the car is monitored by the manufacturer. The drivers response or lack of determines the course of action taken.

  25. sabba
    Facepalm

    First call to the insurance company?

    Insurer: I see you've had a prang sir

    Driver: Erm, yes

    Insurer: Did the police attend?

    Driver: yes, but there was little damage and I won't be making a claim

    Insurer: doesn't matter sir; it's not on your insurance record. We will make sure to screw you for more next year. Have a nice day.

    I wonder how much other information said system might supply to the emergency services / insurers?

    Am I cynical?

  26. Jody

    This sort of kit in cars opens the way for pay-per-mile road charging and variable insurance premiums charged according to when/where/how dangerously you drive .

    I actually think these are both good things - I reckon road charging is the only way to really kill congestion, and rewarding safe drivers with lower insurance premiums might make some of the many nutters on Britain's highways change their ways.

    But others might disagree.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      @ Jody

      "rewarding safe drivers with lower insurance premiums might make some of the many nutters on Britain's highways change their ways."

      You jest. Collect a few points, and your insurance rockets. Collect a couple of "at faults" your insurance rockets. Buy and drive a fast car, your insurance rockets. Modify your car, your insurance rockets. Avoid these things, and your insurance cost declines dramatically. But does this have any bearing on the standard of driving? Not that I can see. Those born to drive like idiots always have and always will drive in that way, whether that means selling their step-grandmother to pay the insurance, driving without insurance at all, lying to the insurer to secure a lower premium, or simply getting a job with a company car.

      As for road charging, yeah, let's price the poor off the roads. Top social conscience you've got there.

      1. EvilGav 1
        Facepalm

        Re: @ Jody

        I think it's you that is jesting. I've yet to see my insurance costs decline in any significant way in over 20 years of motoring.

        I had points on my licence many many years ago, it added £20 a year to my insurance.

        Never been at fault in an accident - the only 2 that my car was involved in whilst I was in it were rear enders, oddly at the same round-about both times, though 10 years or so apart; the other 2 were whilst the car was parked and were hit & run. In all cases my premiums went up.

        The day I see my insurance actually go down (and I mean go down without having to shop round different companies to find a better deal), I think I will actually have a heart attack.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: @ EvilGav 1

          Your story regarding your claims confuses claim related risks with behaviour related risk. You might not be at fault for these, but the insurers know from experience you're more likely to be involved in subsequent claims, and we're also talking about no claims, not no blame. There's a whole host of pecularities to the way insurance is priced (eg no-claims bonus has a very low predictive value on future claims), but what we're discussing here is whether risky drivers are charged higher premiums. Just playing around with the parameters next time you renew your insurance will establish this, either that or try modifying your car, racking up two or three offences etc.

          Insurance costs do go down in relative terms if you avoid the sort of risky behaviours being considered here, and that's why my insurance premium is less than £300 a year, fully comp, protected NCD, plus other extras added. That's a lot less than I was paying twenty years ago, when I was younger, rasher, drove a GTi, and believed I was an excellent driver. And that's without taking account of inflation.

          I think you'll find that (probably in response to government encouragement) the insurers have started adding more to premiums in response to penalty points. Your £20 would be a bargain (more like £50 over the "life" of the points though), given that a male driver in their early twenties would now get a loading of 20% on an average premium of over £2.5k. You can check those out with the same sort of web search I've just done, but they're from MSE, so should be fair. So for a young driver now copping their first three points, that's five hundred quid a year added in year one of renewal, and with no other risk factors or claims would be roughly adding £400 in year two, and £300 in year 3 assuming the NCD is applied to the "points premium". That's £400 per point, for a bog standard 3 point offence. Older drivers don't have such high loading, so in my case (grizzled old b@stard) I'd get a 10% loading, and that would be on my base premium of around £240, so £24 in year one, around £65 in the period it sits on my licence.

    2. King Jack
      Facepalm

      Great idea. Make driving too expensive for people that they can't afford to get to work. They sell the car, then sit at home on the dole. Leaving lovely clear roads for the rich. Genius, real genius.

  27. ravenviz
    Holmes

    What?!!!!

    "really worth spending that much money to save 2,500 lives"

    Ask friends and family of the deceased.

    €100 on the price of a car for this is well worth it!

    1. Tieger
      FAIL

      Re: What?!!!!

      "€100 on the price of a car for this is well worth it!"

      given that its my life that will be lost, shouldnt it be me that gets to make the choice? i suppose if my family care enough, then they could pay the €100 instead. However, given the fact that 'voluntary uptake has been derisory' it seems fairly clear that most people dont consider their life to be worth this cost - which surely is their choice to make? (especially since if my life is 'saved' in this manner, its entirely likely that i'll be left with a life i dont particularly want anyway - ie, crippled.)

      if it will save 2500 lives (likely a high estimate), out of 250million drivers, then its a 1 in 100000 chance that it will help you, as an individual. its better odds than the lottery i suppose, but still worse odds than i'd tend to bet €100 (probably a low estimate) at...

      1. ravenviz
        WTF?

        Re: What?!!!!

        "given that its my life that will be lost"

        Or passengers, pedestrians, other third parties, etc.

        People often make risk assessment on how much it costs rather than the benefit of the risk mitigation itself.

        Anyway the cost is borne by the initial consumer, a ubiquitous system such as this will not hold any particular value to second-users.

        1. Tieger

          Re: What?!!!!

          "Or passengers, pedestrians, other third parties, etc."

          then i'd imagine it should be those passengers, pedestrians, or other third parties who should have this system with them, if they think its so important. but honestly, any pedestrian that i've hit hard enough that *i'm* not the one calling the emergency services (but my car wouldve been), isnt likely to be surviving that regardless. as for passengers i'm perfectly happy to tell them that in the event i crash, theres no automatic 999 call, and they're welcome to find a different car to travel in instead.

          this is shit risk mitigation - spending this much to save a life is a waste of money that could save many more lives. (and no, i'm not talking about random lives in other countries, as honestly i'm not that much of an altruist. forcing every driver in the EU to spend a bit of cash on a Defensive Driving course would be a MUCH more significant way of saving lives - if that was the actual objective, here.

          but i suppose the auto industry is actually quite happy with a lot of accidents happy, so long as people survive, as that way those people buy replacement cars... just cutting down on the number of accidents doesnt do the auto industry any favors at all...

    2. Andy Fletcher
      FAIL

      Re: What?!!!!

      @ravenviz Your statement assumes we have an infinite amount of cash, and can carry out everything that can save lives. We can't. the €12.5bn you want to save 2500 lives could save 10, 100 maybe even 1000 times as many lives if spent appropriately. You're happy with that? I'm for the maximum benefit (most lives saved per €) personally, and this isn't it by a long shot. This policy is for votes, or some other EU alterior motive.

      1. ravenviz
        Stop

        Re: What?!!!!

        I think we should at least try where we have control. Comparing one spend to the detriment of the potential of another is not useful, this programme is about saving lives after car accidents, not whether the third world are in poverty and dying of malaria, that is a different spend that has its own programme.

  28. mark 63 Silver badge
    Happy

    grass!

    999? hello , this is T567THG , my driver has hit something at lat long xxxx , speed 50mph , and I think he's pissed!

  29. Anonymous Coward
    FAIL

    useless in devon

    I travel a lot around the back roads of Devon. Usually I don't get a mobile phone signal. So, I'm paying more for a new car with no benefit to me. Well done Brussels ⇐ knobends!

    No doubt there'll be a a little wire from the battery to these things. No-one can track my whereabouts if I snip the wire.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: useless in devon

      Until they make checking the SnoopBox(tm) part of the MOT!

      They tried to fail my MOT for having an air-freshner hanging on the rearview mirror last time! I was lucky I got away with a simple telling-off as it was Friday afternoon and the tester was in a good mood!

      So you don't think they would have a field day making sure you haven't buggered about with a mandatory safety device?

      1. mark 63 Silver badge
        Flame

        Re: useless in devon

        That MOT inspector probably decided he didnt want his nose broken when the cutomer returned for being so bloody stupid!

  30. Robert Carnegie Silver badge

    Have it activate and call 999 on behalf of the driver

    ...but you can tell them that you're okay. If they don't believe you then they can come and take a look anyway. They also can talk to the bystander who is trying to decide whether to pull you from the car - that's a "make injuries worse" vs. "it catches fire and you die" question.

    Old-person-at-home alarms have already worked this out. I think some of them have an accelerometer.

    And in the meantime they can tell traffic approaching the accident to slow down or divert.

    We're talking about a device with phone function and accelerometer, those are dead cheap now.

    http://www.rospa.com/drivertraining/morr/background/employers-intervention.aspx

    "Government figures state the real cost of a fatal road accident to Society is in excess of £1 million" but that may be the 1998 price.

    1. Mad Mike

      Re: Have it activate and call 999 on behalf of the driver

      Mmmm. I think you're talking about a whole lot more integration into existing systems than they mean. Yes, it could activate signs in the area warning of the danger. Problem is, they'd probably continue showing the same message for the next 3 weeks till someone decides to turn them off. I've yet to really find these signs (such as on motorways etc.) of any use whatsoever as the messages are normally way out of date, often by days, let alone hours or minutes.

  31. Alex King

    Fuck this shit

    I demand the right to crash myself to death if I so wish/I am stupid enough. Let people get hurt and, yes, die. That deters crashes. I don't want your god-damn cotton wool.

    1. Mad Mike

      Re: Fuck this shit

      An interesting conversation I had with a motorbike rider once.

      He said that everyone learning or having passed their test in the last couple of years should be forced to ride huge, powerful motorbikes. That way, the safe riders survive and can then use something sensible or of their choice. The idiots and careless drivers will remove themselves from the gene pool rapidly by crashing and dying. Long term, this leads to a better standard of motorbike rider and fewer deaths!!

      1. Anonymous Coward 15

        Re: Fuck this shit

        Darwin FTW.

  32. Just_this_guy

    Dodgy numbers, surely?

    The lives saved figure of 2,500 is surely an annual one? Since the €12.5b cost is estimated over 10 years, that would be 25,000 lives, therefore €500k per life, not €5m.

  33. Matthew 3

    Missing something obvious here

    Two pages of comments and nobody has said: just keep your existing car.

    They've said this tech will be introduced via new cars only . By maintaining your current car there's no need to ever get this kit imposed on you, unless you want it of course.

    Doesn't mean I'll support the idea - it's still a stupid one with all the issues mentioned above - but it's rare for any kind of legislation to be made retrospective.

    Buy something pre-1960 and, from October, it won't even need an MOT and is already exempt from road tax (pre '71). Once a car is old enough to qualify as a classic it also becomes cheaper to insure. It's a win for everyone except the Eurocrats.

    1. Mad Mike

      Re: Missing something obvious here

      This is OK for a while at least. But, everything wears out in the end...........

  34. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Utter Lobblocks

    As a previous poster points out, phone coverage is by no means universal. And it's on those exact rural out of the way roads that you may have an accident with no-one around to witness it and call the emergency services manually. The same roads where response time for emeregency services is significantly longer than urban areas.

    And what happens when 2G and 3g phone networks become obsolete? Do you have to take your car back to a dealer to get a 4G or 5G or 6G retrofit unit installed? Who pays for that? What if the manufacturer can no longer be bothered to provide a compatible unit for your old car?

    The more of this sh!t that our elected representative propose, and the more worthless unreliable technology that car manufacturers install, the more I am inclined to keep my 17 year old "second" car on the road, and start to use it as my main car again.

  35. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Spike in the middle of the steering wheel would improve road safety more.

  36. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    No Thanks !

    I don't want snitch in the car dialing the Old Bill when I've just put my motor into a hedge after ten pints of lager !

  37. Just_this_guy

    Dodgy numbers confirmed.

    Confirming the assumption in my earlier post - yes, the 2,500 number is an annual estimate:

    http://www.esafetysupport.org/en/ecall_toolbox/faq/index.html#Why_is_eCall_useful

    Even allowing for gradual take-up over the 10 years discussed in the article, averaging say 1,250 lives per year, that's €1m per life, not €5m, with costs presumably falling in later years. And of course you can also look at it from the individual POV, as £100 mandatory accident insurance.

    That page estimates annual nett savings too:

    "Considering the total impact of eCall estimated by the SEiSS study, the annual accident cost savings in Europe are estimated to be up to €22 billion and the annual congestion cost savings around €4 billion - bringing the total annual benefits up to €26 billion. Since the annual total costs of eCall are only estimated to €4.5 billion, the cost-benefit ratio for eCall is significant."

    1. Mad Mike

      Re: Dodgy numbers confirmed.

      Interesting reports these. I too can create number out of the ether without any reference to sources or logic or reasoning (as these reports do). Whether they are correct is another matter though. Given governments (and EU) history, accuracy isn't one of their strong points. Plucking random numbers out of the air and quoting them as fact, is though. Smart metering is a good case in point. All pilots have shown that it has almost no effect on consumption. Doesn't stop the government claiming 18% though!!

      1. Just_this_guy

        Re: Dodgy numbers confirmed.

        I don't know if the reports are reliable. I do know their claims are not properly reported in the article.

        1. Andy Fletcher

          Re: Dodgy numbers confirmed.

          The problem with your/their numbers is, if this really saves money for the EU, then the EU should be keen pay for it. If it really makes economic sense to do it, there's no need to legislate, just pay the manufacturers to add the device and the job's done. Manufacturer's aren't going to complain about a new feature on their vehicles at no cost to them now are they, and if it costs them nothing, they have no cost to pass to the buyer. Everybody wins! Unless (and since they aren't offering to pay this is my suspicion) there's no saving at all that can be reliably calculated.

  38. Iggle Piggle

    999?

    :-) They'd be better dialling the European standard 112. However I'd quite like to see the device go a step further and report the last few minutes of driver behaviour. If you're found in a Ditch in a 50 zone and the car has already reported you were travelling at 90mph then perhaps your insurance can immediately revert to third party only leaving you to pick up the bill for the retrieval and repairs.

    Yep, I know that's a spy in the cab, but let's face it lorry drivers have had that for years and it has modified their behaviour so why not ours too?

    1. NumptyScrub

      Re: 999?

      quote: "Yep, I know that's a spy in the cab, but let's face it lorry drivers have had that for years and it has modified their behaviour so why not ours too?"

      The problem with that type of justification is that it entirely depends upon the personal line people have drawn between acceptable and unacceptable monitoring. You are fine with there being monitoring in the vehicle, to reduce road crimes. I'm going to assume you would not be fine with 24h personal monitoring to report on any undesirable behaviour? The problem is that the justification for that kind of invasive monitoring is identical; if everyone is being monitored 24/7, then we can practically eliminate all crime (including driving offenses). You can also apply some FUD to that, stating that only paedos and terrorists (speeders and drink drivers) would dare to refuse such a well-meaning and beneficial policy. Law abiding citizens have nothing to fear :)

      Of course in my personal experience, there is no such thing as a law abiding citizen on the UK roads. Every day, 80% or more of the vehicles I come into contact with (metaphorically, of course, I don't ram everything I see) are speeding. Average speeds on a motorway are 80+, and the 30 limit road to work has an average speed of 35+ (yes, it does indeed pass a school, and yes, nobody slows down for it unless they are turning in, or behind someone turning in). I've been driving more than 20 years, and in that time I have formed the opinion that anyone who tells me that they categorically do not speed, and they are a safe driver, is lying, whether they know it or not.

      Evidence for this? Next time you see a marked police vehicle on the road do not adjust your driving in any way. Ask your significant other (or other regular passenger) if they have ever noticed you adjust your driving when confronted by a marked police vehicle. I guarantee you will instead automatically slow down and actually use your indicators properly, and that your SO will confirm this fact. The fact that every vehicle slows down when they spot a police vehicle shows that every driver (at least subconsciously) acknowledges they are probably going too fast.

      Personally, I would recommend regular retesting (and make the test harder) over an automated accident call solution. The best way of minimising road deaths is to not have the accident in the first place, and this can be achieved by dramatically increasing the skill level required to be allowed to drive on the road. As an added bonus, fewer qualified drivers means less pollution, less fuel use, and more people using public transport, all of which the government keep telling us they want to happen anyway!

      Also note: if you find yourself vehemently against the idea of increasing the difficulty of the driving test, and/or against taking it regularly, I would suggest that you are likely worried that you probably wouldn't pass it for some reason. What does that say about the level of your driving skill? Are you really a "safe" driver if you don't think you could pass an advanced driving test? ;)

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: 999?

      Actually, good point about professional drivers (disclaimer: as an ex-EMT I hold full heavy and passenger vehicle licences, and do occasionally drive buses for a hobby). I have also worked in industries where all land vehicles are fitted with monitor boxes and it really does change your driving and reduces the seriousness of accidents (not so much the accident rate itself, though).

      Let's face it, how many people remember they still live in a society once they get in the car? I am very tolerant, and I really like driving myself, but I have attended accidents such as the one that turned me into a vegetarian for a few weeks (ever seen, and smelled, a roasted human? how about a child embedded in a fence?)--these sort of experiences make you think twice about where your personal freedoms stop and others' start.

      Btw, one of my residences is reasonably close to an F1 race track. When not used for competitions or training, it can be hired by anyone with a car or motorcycle for about €60 per half-hour, and there is also a reasonably priced racing school, all of which is great fun for everyone involved, rather unlike those sad cunts speeding on public roads--a number of which I suspect then proceed to complain about Big Brother and Nanny States (which I'm all against, but hopefully for less selfish reasons).

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: 999?

        What you were missing there was some fava beans and a nice chianti.

  39. Matthew Hale

    Good idea...

    ...and it measures the force of an impact... so no, it wouldn't call the emergency services for small prangs as some people who clearly haven't read the story have commented.

    Also, what is this figure of millions being banged around for? Surely if it just means making the buyer pay an extra $100 dollars on the price of a new car... erm...really not a big deal is it?

    I think it's a great idea. But by all means, if you'd rather bleed out at the wheel and wait for someone to find you/bother to call the emergency services rather than simply getting the camera phone out and uploading it to LL then by all means, go without! :)

    1. Mad Mike

      Re: Good idea...

      What everyone has to understand, is that as this is about politicians and other similar political animals, the stated reason is not normally connected with the real reason. Again, I'll cite smart metering as an example. For energy reduction, studies (by anyone independant) have shown they do nothing. So, why keep on with the project. I'll give you a clue, it's got nothing to do with reducing consumption and everything to do with cutting people off!!

      Same with this. It's got nothing to do with your health, as politicians don't really care about that. (Otherwise they wouldn't send thousands to die in pointless foreign wars!!). It's got to do with scope creep and what else they can get it to do..........

    2. Tieger

      Re: Good idea...

      "But by all means, if you'd rather bleed out at the wheel and wait for someone to find you/bother to call the emergency services rather than simply getting the camera phone out and uploading it to LL then by all means, go without! :)"

      yeah... about that... thats exactly what people are doing at the moment! they're weighing up the costs vs benefits, and saying 'nah, not for me, thanks' - hence why 'voluntary uptake has been derisory'. making it mandatory removes the option of 'going without'.

  40. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Bystanders?

    Maybe for you townies, but I often go down roads where bystanders don't exist and it may be another hour before a car passes by, and then you hope they actually see you.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Bystanders?

      "and then you hope they actually see you"

      ...and don't pretend they haven't (a few perhaps out of malice, but usually it's fear / shock).

  41. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Airbag deployment is a false comparison

    Airbags must be deployed in fractions of a second if they're to do their job, the logic which decides to call the authorities has a lot more time to assess the situation. A cancel button is just one of the inputs that could be used to decide whether the call should be made. Even if a call were to be made it would be easy to provide e.g. pictures of the situation that could be checked before emergency services rolled.

  42. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    (cynical) correction

    Quote:

    being able to track people in the moments before an accident means cheaper premiums (for safer drivers)

    Correction: being able to track people in the moments before an accident means dearer premiums (for unsafe drivers)

  43. despairing citizen
    Stop

    Nice idea - shame about the details

    This is one of those ideas that is good in threory, but fails in the real world.

    1. Assumes the comms survives the crash

    2. Assumes the cell net works in the area you're in (try getting a mobile reception in rurual river valley)

    3. Assumes the system can get a GPS signal (big buildings in cities, tunnels, etc,)

    4. People will assume the auto call went out, and hence not call it in themselves

    5. Defects and Faults causing false-positives, or not calling when they should

    Yes it could in theory save a life, I can think of two examples where it would have, but personally I think the above down sides would actually create a net negative, be having ambulances responding to wrong locations, and people relying on system that has ceased to function.

    so 10 out 10 for a good idea, minus a few hundred for practicalities

  44. Fafhrd
    Facepalm

    motorcross mayhem!

    "and extending the technology into (hitherto exempt) motorcycles and trucks too."

    Hey great - police and ambulance arrive every time I stuff my dirt bike through a hedge - hilarious!

  45. Bernd Felsche
    Facepalm

    Unintended consequences

    + bystanders will no longer call for emergencies assuming that the crashed car has already called

    + provides an attack vector against emergency services as connections are inherently untrusted

    + GPRS (minimum) connectivity to connect to 112 call centres to post the XML object isn't ubiquitous

    + each vehicle will require a "slot" in a mobile cell and be constantly connected for rapid response

    + if the vehicle isn't constantly connected, it can take minutes to establish a connection

    + "constant" connection facilitates vehicle tracking

    + powering an electrical (radio transmission) device in a crashed vehicle can add to fire risk

    Some of those things can add to the road toll.

  46. sunjun5

    "One might even argue that bystanders will be less willing to place the call (and perhaps lend other support) when they know the vehicle will have summoned aid already – but perhaps we're being too cynical."

    Perhaps you are not. In 'Thinking Fast and Slow', Daniel Kahneman writes about an experiment by Richard Nisbett (p 171). He concludes that "individuals feel relieved of responsibility when they know that others have heard the same request for help".

  47. Adalat

    My main concern is the emergency services and call centre time wasted on false positives. Bearing in mind that all the call centre knows is "something happened", and then have to figure out what, where, whether anyone was injured, match this call with bystander calls that might or might not be about the same accident, and whether to divert an ambulance that happens to be a block away on another job. Cost to install the hardware is only the start. By the way will tow truck drivers be notified?

  48. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    How many can be saved

    Fewer than 2,000 died in road accidents last year in the UK. I imagine most had pretty fast responses from the emergency services even without the proposed device.

    I wonder what proportion would be saved by the system - I doubt there's much room for improvement here.

    William

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