By 2015 cars could come fitted with automatic emergency call systems, under a new legislation proposed by the EU.
The technology is designed to send out calls to the EU emergency number 112 in case of an accident, giving details that may enable rescue services to reach the site as soon as possible.
It would ensure that help reaches motorists and passengers who may not be in a condition to dial the emergency services themselves.
The system could be a valuable addition to in-car safety technologies which would potentially save lives and bring downcar insurance premiums.
The EU funded the research project that developed eCall and has encouraged the automotive sector to adopt it voluntarily as a safety measure.
However, officials say the industry's response to the call has been lukewarm, prompting moves for new regulations to have the system installed.
"The commission has decided to take legislative action to introduce eCall because voluntary deployment has been insufficient," an EC statement said.
It is estimated that a car can be equipped with eCall for under £90.
In the event of a serious crash in which motorists are unable to speak directly to 112 operators, eCall provides data - including the precise location of the crash - to help rescuers respond quickly.
Copyright © Press Association 2011