FIM Brussels – eCall: On the horizon for PTWs in Europe?
As of 1st April all new cars in the EU must be equipped with pan-European in-vehicle emergency call service technology or `eCall’, following the European Commission’s proposal for an eCall regulation in June 2013. As part of the EU focus on road safety, the technology seeks to remove possible issues arising from the need for a person to contact emergency services following an accident. To achieve this, the system automatically communicates detailed vital information, including the vehicle’s location, the time of accident and the direction of travel, to emergency services when a severe accident occurs. While it mainly acts when the driver is incapable of doing so themself, it can also be manually activated by a third party.
In advance of the Commission’s original proposal there was much discussion regarding the possible inclusion of PTWs within the scope, which ultimately did not come to fruition. In 2010, the industry outlined that it wasn’t supportive of eCall for PTWs due to the fact that the technology specific to PTWs was not sufficiently developed. Besides, the industry argued that the installation of eCall would lead to disproportionately high costs on average and that the majority of accidents involving PTWs occur in areas where eCall would be of less benefit than for the average car.
Since then, some European OEMs have adopted a different approach. In June 2016, motorcycle manufacturers BMW Motorrad, Honda, KTM, Piaggio and Yamaha joined the EU-funded “I_HeERO” (Infrastructure Harmonised eCall European Pilot) project which has 10 EU Member States as Associated Partners. The project aims to create the conditions necessary for the introduction of eCall to a wider range of transport modes, including PTWs, with a dedicated working group to investigate the requirements necessary to install an eCall system on PTWs. Following this, BMW Motorrad introduced the first eCall system for PTWs in 2017, using a system which included automatic activation following serious accidents and automatic activation following minor falls/impacts with a small time delay to allow for cancellation as well as manual activation.
Additionally, the debate has been gathering attention in light of the application of the eCall on new cars as of 1st April as well as the forthcoming Commission proposal for a revision of the General and Pedestrian Safety Regulations, due as part of the third mobility package to be published on 2nd May. Significantly, the European Parliament (EP) expressly stated their support for an extension of the eCall installation requirement to PTWs in their November 2017 Resolution titled `Saving Lives: Boosting Car Safety in the EU’.
In response to the EP Resolution, the European Commission confirmed last year that currently it does not intend to extend the scope of eCall and any revision would not be considered until the beginning of the next legislature in late 2019 at the earliest. While it remains unlikely that there will be a change in legislation within the next few years, the increasing interest within the industry, the progress in the technology and the support of the EP demonstrate that the technology will be becoming more commonplace in the near future.