National Highways is now joining forces with vehicle manufacturers and motoring groups to raise awareness of a special SOS button in cars that is potentially life saving technology
Motorists have been told to check if their car has an SOS button as many are unaware of the potentially lifesaving technology.
All new cars and vans have to include the emergency call system known as eCall, where there is an SOS button fitted, as part of legislation brought in four years ago.
When airbags are triggered, vehicle sensors activate the eCall system, which automatically sends its location to a 999 operator, reported Manchester Evening News.
The system enables drivers to speak with emergency operators, who having the precise coordinates of the vehicle, can direct emergency services to the exact location of the vehicle.
The technology can also be manually activated by the driver pressing the eCall system’s SOS button to connect to emergency services.
It is an alternative to using a mobile phone if the occupant is struggling to access it in an accident.
But with many drivers unaware of the technology, National Highways is now joining forces with vehicle manufacturers and motoring groups to tell people about it.
Mel Clarke, Customer Services Director at National Highways, said: “Safety is our priority at National Highways.
“The emergency call (eCall) system and its SOS button could save lives and revolutionize road incident response on the roads, yet our research shows that most people do not know about it.
“I urge drivers to check if they have this safety feature installed, particularly if your vehicle was manufactured since April 2018, and to follow our advice about how and when to use it.”
All new types of passenger cars and vans built since April 2018 have eCall fitted as standard with the SOS button typically found near the top of the windscreen or on the steering wheel.
A National Highways survey found many drivers were unaware that the emergency call system exists while others were using it for non-emergency calls, which could mean others who really require the service are unable to connect.
Mike Hawes, Chief Executive at Society for Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) said: “SMMT is pleased to be working with National Highways to build greater awareness and understanding of the emergency call (eCall) system its SOS button functions in vehicles.
“This initiative is vitally important to inform and remind consumers of their cars’ additional safety measures including the ability to call for assistance in times of trouble.”
The button can also be used for any emergency situation on the road.
By the end of 2025, over 12.6 million cars and vans are expected to feature the emergency call (eCall) system.
Steve Gooding, Director of RAC Foundation said: “There are so many clever high-tech elements being built into modern motor cars that it’s all-too-easy for motorists to miss the ones – like eCall – that could be the most valuable in the event of a road incident.
“Knowing how to work the infotainment system could take the strain out of a long drive, but knowing how and when to use eCall could save lives.”