The safety feature that gets you help quicker and faster
Since April 2018, most cars and vans have been fitted with an emergency call system, known as eCall. This built-in safety feature is automatically activated in the event of an incident when the airbags are deployed.
This can also be manually activated by the driver or passenger by pressing a button – this button is known as eCall SOS.
What is eCall and how does this safety feature save lives?
We are working with the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) to build greater awareness and understanding of eCall and eCall SOS button functions.
Here we explain the main benefits of eCall and provide guidance on locating the eCall SOS button, and advice on when to use and not use eCall.
The following video explains the benefits of eCall and the key information that drivers and passengers need to know.
You do not need to be carrying a mobile phone for this vehicle built-in safety feature to work. eCall should only be used if the situation requires the emergency services.
When activated, eCall contacts a 999 operator and provides your vehicle’s exact location directly to emergency services. This means help arrives more quickly.
Where is the eCall SOS button?
The eCall SOS button can be found in the ceiling console by the internal rear-view mirror, behind a pop-out hatch or on the centre console. Please refer to your vehicle manual, your car manufacturer or authorised dealership.
There is no need to check if your eCall is working, as the system will carry out a self-test each time the vehicle is started.
In case of any fault, a malfunction lamp or message may illuminate or appear on your vehicle dashboard. Your car manufacturer or authorised dealership can provide further advice if required.
How does eCall work?
When eCall is activated, the system transmits your vehicle location
including the direction of travel whilst contacting a 999 operator. This happens when eCall is activated automatically by vehicle sensors, and manually when you press the eCall SOS button.
It reduces the time it takes for the police, fire service or ambulance to respond and arrive at your exact location. This gets you quicker help if you or others have suffered a serious injury.
Some vehicle owners have access to private eCall through a subscription service. Automatic and manual activation of the private eCall will connect you to your vehicle manufacturer’s call centre. The call centre operators work with 999 operators and will communicate your exact location to the emergency services.
eCall is not a ‘black box’ and does not monitor your vehicle’s movements.
It will only locate your vehicle’s position when this safety feature is activated automatically by the vehicle sensors, or manually when you press the eCall SOS button.
Breakdown call button (bCall)
Some vehicles also have a breakdown call button. This button is also known as ‘bCall’ and connects you to your breakdown service.
This function requires you to manually change the vehicle settings to be able to connect to your current breakdown and roadside rescue. Please refer to your vehicle manual, your car manufacturer or authorised dealership. In a limited number of vehicles, the emergency, breakdown and concierge functions are combined.
This image displays an example from left to right:
- concierge button
- bCall button
- eCall SOS button
Manual activation of the in-vehicle emergency call system
You might have a medical emergency, or see someone else needing help.
Or you might find yourself with a problem and unable to get out of your car safely:
- Turn your hazard warning lights on.
- Activate your vehicle’s built-in emergency call system by pushing the eCall SOS button to contact a 999 operator.
- Keep your seatbelts on.
The 999 operator will automatically receive your vehicle details including your location and direction of travel. Through your vehicle’s speaker system, they will then ask for further information to establish the nature of the emergency.
If the emergency call system fails to work when you press the eCall SOS button, use your phone to call 999 for help. eCall must only be used in an emergency requiring the police, fire service or an ambulance.
Do not use the emergency call system or press the eCall SOS button if you only require breakdown recovery or vehicle roadside assistance.
Automatic activation of the in-vehicle emergency call system
If you are involved in an incident that triggers your air-bags:
Your vehicle sensors will automatically activate the onboard
emergency call system and send your vehicle details including your location and direction of travel when contacting a 999 operator.
The 999 operator will use your vehicle’s built-in safety feature to
speak to you, and ask for further information to respond quickly and appropriately.
If you can, clearly tell the 999 operator you need urgent assistance. If you are unable to respond to the 999 operator, your vehicle details will be automatically passed to the police.
Press the eCall SOS button to manually trigger the emergency call system if your vehicle sensors fail to activate this feature automatically.
If the emergency call system fails to work when you press the eCall SOS button, use your phone to dial 999 for help.
When should I use eCall or bCall?
If you have broken down and can leave your vehicle safely, press your bCall button or use your phone to call for breakdown recovery or roadside assistance.
If you have stopped in a live traffic lane and require emergency services, use eCall.
1. Stay in your vehicle and keep your seatbelts on
2. Turn your hazard warning lights on
3. Activate your in-vehicle emergency call system by manually pressing the eCall SOS button.
This immediately sends your vehicle’s location and direction of travel directly to a 999 operator.
4. The 999 operator will contact you through your in-vehicle eCall using the speaker system. They will ask for further information to establish the nature of the emergency. Inform the 999 operator you are in a dangerous/vulnerable location and and whether you are:
- not able to exit your car safely
- experiencing a medical emergency
- disabled, or a vulnerable motorist such as an older person
5. The emergency services can alert National Highways, so we can close motorway lanes and send other help as required, such as a traffic officer.
If the emergency call system fails to work when you press the eCall SOS button, use your mobile phone to dial 999.