UN regulation to save lives

New UN regulation on automatic emergency call system for road traffic accidents will reduce response times and save lives.

Every second counts in a road traffic emergency; reducing the time it takes for medical services, firefighters and rescuers to arrive on the scene can save lives and limit the severity of the consequences of road accidents for survivors. Every year 1.25 million people die in road traffic accidents while an additional 50 million are injured.

A new United Nations Regulation harmonizing in-vehicle systems to automatically call the emergency services in the event of a crash will support improved responsiveness and the provision of appropriate emergency treatment – one of five pillars of the global Decade of Action on road safety.

The system informs emergency services of the vehicle’s precise location, along with information on time of accident and direction of travel, regardless of whether the driver is conscious or able to make a phone call. The system may also be activated manually in the case of emergency needs, such as if the diver witnesses a serious accident.

The UN Regulation on Accident Emergency Call Systems (AECS), adopted by the World Forum for Harmonization of Vehicle Regulations (WP.29), comes as the first United Nations Regulation dealing with vehicle connectivity. It stands as an example of effective international and multi-stakeholder cooperation to harness the potential of new technologies to help improve road safety.

The regulation will improve compatibility between existing emergency call systems, enabling the scaling-up of the technology so that more countries will be able to benefit from reduced emergency response times for road traffic accidents.

AECS aligns the ERA-GLONASS emergency call system in use in the Russian Federation with the European Union’s eCall, which is set to become compulsory for all new cars sold in the EU from April 2018.

According to EU estimates, eCall can reduce emergency response times by 40% in urban areas and 50% in the countryside, and can reduce the number of fatalities by at least 4% and the number of severe injuries by six per cent.

The adoption of the new regulation – which is expected to enter into force in June 2018 – will make these benefits available to even more countries wishing to apply the regulation under the 1958 Agreement, supporting global efforts to improve road safety.