EMERGENCY call devices that automatically alert rescue services to car crashes (eCall) will have to be fitted to all new models of cars and light vans by 31 March 2018 under rules voted by European Parliament.
The eCall in-vehicle system uses 112 emergency call technology to alert the emergency services to serious road accidents automatically.
"Deploying the 112-based eCall in-vehicle emergency system across the EU will help to improve road safety in all 28 member states," said socialist MEP Olga Sehnalova, lead negotiator of the legislation.
"The European Parliament has repeatedly stressed that reducing deaths and the severity of injuries on the roads is its priority.
"eCall as a public service, free of charge for all citizens, irrespective of the type of vehicle or its purchase price, will contribute to this common goal."
MEPs strengthened the draft law’s data protection clause to preclude tracking of eCall-equipped vehicle before the accident occurs.
Under the new rules, the automatic call would give the emergency services only basic minimum data, such as the type of vehicle, the fuel used, the time of the accident, the exact location and the number of passengers.
The rules say eCall data gathered by emergency centres or their service partners must not be transferred to third parties without explicit consent of the person concerned.
Manufacturers will also have to ensure that the eCall technology design permits full and permanent deletion of data gathered.