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Alert system could save 2,500 lives

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The European Union has called on the UK and Ireland to sign up for potentially life-saving technology that automatically notifies the emergency services after a vehicle crash has taken place.

Europe's mobile phone operators have already agreed a voluntary commitment to implement 'eCall', but the scheme, which the EU estimates could save up to 2,500 lives a year, can only take effect once all member states are on board. The UK, Ireland, Denmark, France, Latvia and Malta have not yet signed the document.

The technology works by automatically alerting emergency services with the location of the car after a crash has taken place - even if the parties do not know or are unable to say where they are.

EU telecoms commissioner Viviane Reding said the mobile phone operators had demonstrated "social responsibility" by signing up for the scheme, adding: "However, the roll-out of the pan-European eCall needs everyone's cooperation.

"Mobile operators, the car industry and the majority of member states have shown the necessary commitment, but six countries still have not done so.

"They should now take their foot off the brake and speed up the introduction of a system that can save lives."

© Press Association 2009