Australia’s National Road Safety Strategy has an ambitious goal to achieve zero deaths and serious injuries by 2050.
This is an admirable goal—and an ambition that all of us in the ITS industry have a role to play in —but we have some way to go before this is achieved.
In 2020 there were 1106 fatalities and 40,000 series injuries on Australian roads. This cost the economy almost $30 billion.
Safer vehicles and better roads are bringing the road toll down, but more needs to be done if Australia has a chance of reducing fatalities and achieving its target.
One policy that could make a positive difference is the installation of eCall technology, which the European Union mandated in 2018 for all new vehicles and light vans.
eCall has been available for several years, but the technology has matured rapidly through the ability to combine 4G connectivity with geolocation and automation technologies.
With eCall installed, in the event of an accident the vehicle is able to contact first responders and alert them on the precise location of the vehicle and also include important information on the nature of the incident. eCall works 24/7 and triages calls through a vehicle call centre platform that connects to emergency services.
We have begun to see eCall technology appear in new vehicles delivered to the Australian market. So far, eCall technology has been fitted in some new Toyota models since the end of 2020. Meta-data from Europe estimates that fitting eCall in all Australian vehicles could save around 200 lives each year.
Because it captures data automatically from the vehicle, eCall is able to reduce the response time of emergency services. Within five seconds or less, agents can be speaking with the vehicle occupant and have all available event information on hand to promptly engage emergency services as needed.
Time is of the essence in road accidents. The first hour after a collision is known as the ‘Golden Hour’ because assistance to an injured person in the first hour can be critical for survival.
The earlier a first responder can appear on the scene, the better the outcome is likely to be. Timely intervention prevents serious injury and death. This is even more essential in Australia than other parts of the world as a high proportion of accidents occur on remote roads involving a single vehicle.
In a recent real-life Australian case study, a woman experienced a medical episode when the vehicle she was travelling in was involved in a minor incident. She panicked and was struggling to breathe.
This vehicle was equipped with a eCall technology, and this was activated, connecting her with an agent. The agent calmed her, contacted emergency services on her behalf, and made sure an ambulance was dispatched to her aid.
We are living in the emergent era of connected vehicles, and soon vehicles will be able to function autonomously. Given the major advances in connected car technology, shouldn’t their first implementations be for systems that improve safety?
ITS has called for an eCall mandate for new vehicles and suggested that the technology could be retrofitted into existing vehicles to make them safer.
There is no doubt that reducing road trauma is always a priority for the Australian Government. eCall technology can be a worthwhile contributor to Australia achieving the National Road Safety vision of zero deaths and serious injuries on our roads by 2050.
To learn more about eCall technology and how it can make our roads safer, register for our upcoming webinar - How eCall in Australian Vehicles Can Help to Achieve Vision Zero Fatalities