In order to tackle the challenges of the 21st century in the field of road transport, the deployment of intelligent transport systems (ITS) is an indispensable element of our transport policy. Here, the focus is on intelligent vehicle and infrastructure systems which can make road transport safer, more efficient and more environmentally friendly by cooperating with each other.
Road transport does not stop at national borders. Therefore, we are promoting the greater use of ITS and their interfaces with other modes of transport not only at the national but also at the European level. In the era of a common European market, well functioning intelligent transport systems require, not least, successful cooperation among the European partners.
Intelligent Transport Systems Act (IVSG)
Directive 2010/40/EU of the European Parliament and of the Council of 7 July 2010 on the framework for the deployment of Intelligent Transport Systems in the field of road transport and for interfaces with other modes of transport (ITS Directive) states that the Member States of the European Union must apply the specifications laid down by the Commission if they introduce priority actions as specified in Article 3. Priority areas within the meaning of the Directive are:
I. the optimal use of road, traffic and travel data;
II. the continuity of traffic and freight management ITS services;
III. ITS road safety and security applications;
IV. linking the vehicle with the transport infrastructure.
Priority actions for the development and use of specifications and standards in the priority areas are:
a) the provision of EU-wide multi-modal travel information services;
b) the provision of EU-wide real-time traffic information services;
c) data and procedures for the provision, where possible, of road safety related minimum universal traffic information free of charge to users;
d) the harmonised provision for an interoperable EU-wide eCall;
e) the provision of information services for safe and secure parking places for trucks and commercial vehicles;
f) the provision of reservation services for safe and secure parking places for trucks and commercial vehicles.
Related specifications are adopted in the form of delegated regulations, which are directly applicable Union law. Therefore, the Member States are directly obliged to enforce these acts.
In comparison with the delegated regulations which only have to be applied if a Member State introduces one of the priority actions listed above, the introduction of eCall constitutes an exception. Its EU-wide introduction is mandatory in accordance with the Decision of the European Parliament and of the Council (Decision No 585/2014/EU of the European Parliament and of the Council of 15 May 2014 on the deployment of the interoperable EU-wide eCall service). The introduction of eCall is not optional for a Member State.
The Act on Intelligent Transport Systems in road transport and their interfaces with other modes of transport (IVSG) was published in the Federal Law Gazette 2013 Part I, No 29, p. 1553 on 20 June 2013 and entered into force on 21 June 2013. Directive 2010/40/EU of the European Parliament and of the Council of 7 July 2010 on the framework for the deployment of Intelligent Transport Systems in the field of road transport and for interfaces with other modes of transport (OJ L 207 of 6 August 2010, p. 1) was transposed into German law by the IVSG. “Intelligent transport systems” within the meaning of the Act are systems in which information and communications technologies are used in road transport and at interfaces with other modes of transport.
The First Act amending the Intelligent Transport Systems Act entered into force on 25 July 2017.
The Act was amended due to European provisions (delegated regulations supplementing Directive 2010/40/EU). Accordingly, it established a “National Body” to check whether the road, traffic and travel data made available by data providers are in compliance with the requirements of the delegated regulations. The Federal Highway Research Institute (BASt) is responsible for and performs the functions of the “National Body”.
National ITS Action Plan for the Roads
Without a clear national strategy, Germany would not be able to cooperate constructively and successfully in the European process. With the Federal Ministry of Transport and Digital Infrastructure acting as the lead agency, the ITS advisory council consisting of federal ministries, federal states, local authorities, industry and trade associations developed a national ITS Action Plan for the Roads. This plan includes the interfaces with other modes of transport and covers the period to 2020. The ITS Action Plan was agreed with all parties involved and defines the approach to be adopted for the coordinated evolution of existing ITS and the accelerated deployment of new ITS to enhance road safety, improve transport efficiency and reduce the adverse environmental impact of transport. Currently, the focus is still on road transport and its interfaces with other modes of transport. The ITS Action Plan includes a roadmap detailing the aims, responsibilities and stages of the individual measures.
An example of the roadmap implementation in Germany is the deployment of a Mobility Data Marketplace (MDM). The Mobility Data Marketplace, which is operated by the Federal Highway Research Institute, is an Internet portal providing information on available traffic data. The MDM connects different providers of data that possess information, for example on the current traffic situation, road works and congestion or journey times, with potential users of the data, such as traffic management centres or traffic/travel information service providers, on the Internet, as an app or in-vehicle. The MDM serves as a National Access Point within the meaning of the delegated regulations under the ITS Directive.
In conjunction with the associated roadmap, the ITS Action Plan provides the formal basis for German proposals at the European level. The Action Plan is being continuously updated with new measures. In addition, a revision of the Action Plan is being prepared with regard to the period after 2020.
In June 2019, the kick-off event of the European expert group entitled “Single platform for open road testing and pre-deployment of cooperative, connected, automated and autonomous mobility” (CCAM Single Platform) took place in Brussels. The task of this expert group is to provide advice to the European Commission regarding questions of the trialling of cooperative, connected and automated driving technologies (CCAM) in real world driving and the creation of links to pre-deployment. Moreover, issues such as data access and data exchange, digital transport infrastructure, communications technology, cyber security and road safety are to be addressed. The platform is to consist of around 100 experts. These are representatives of the Member States and of European associations. The Federal Ministry of Transport and Digital Infrastructure is actively involved in the platform.
Information on the 112 eCall
The pan-European eCall (automated emergency call) is an interoperable EU-wide emergency call system which automatically transmits a minimum set of data to the responsible rescue coordination centre (public safety answering point - PSAP) in the case of an accident and establishes a voice connection to this PSAP. It uses the single EU emergency number 112. The minimum set of data consists of the precise location, the approximate direction of travel as well as the vehicle identification number. The vehicle's location is determined by using data received from satellite positioning systems via the corresponding receivers. To be able to automatically make the emergency call and transmit the minimum set of data, new types of passenger cars are provided with an in-vehicle mobile communications unit. The core of the unit is a “dormant SIM card” that is deactivated during normal operation and will be activated if the airbag deploys or if eCall is triggered manually by a vehicle occupant.
The use of eCall makes it possible to initiate the necessary rescue operations much more quickly and efficiently than before. eCall thus helps to save lives as the first 10 minutes following an accident are of vital importance. In order to progressively introduce this safety technology in Europe, installing an in-vehicle eCall system has been mandatory since 31 March 2018. This obligation only applies to new vehicle types that are granted approval (so-called type approval) in the Member States of the European Union. The basis for the introduction of the in-vehicle eCall system is Regulation (EU) 2015/758.
Frequently asked questions about eCall
The manufacturer of my vehicle offers its own automatic emergency call system. How does this system relate to the 112-based eCall?
Until now, an automatic emergency call has been offered by some passenger car manufacturers as a private service, usually as a chargeable option. These systems continue to be permitted as so-called TPS (Third Party Service) eCall systems. With the mandatory introduction of the pan-European eCall, the car owner has the right to choose between the TPS eCall and the 112-based uniform Europe-wide eCall system. Passenger car manufacturers are required to provide the car owner with information on the factory-installed systems in the operating instructions. If the car owner opts for the manufacturer's service option, the pan-European eCall system initially remains inactive. In the event of a failure of the TPS eCall system provided by the manufacturer, the 112-based eCall system is activated automatically. The passenger car manufacturer must ensure reliable functioning of this switch-over.
I bought a new car. Does the eCall system have to be pre-installed in it?
In accordance with uniform Europe-wide requirements, after 31 March 2018, type approvals for new types of passenger cars may only be granted if they are fitted with the uniform pan-European eCall system. If the type approval for a passenger car was issued before 31 March 2018, the vehicle does not have to be delivered with an eCall system ex factory. Owners of passenger car types approved before 31 March 2018 thus have no right to have their vehicle retrofitted with an eCall system. This can only be done on a voluntary basis.
Is the eCall system only mandatory for passenger cars or also for HGVs and motorcycles?
The system is mandatory for vehicle categories M1 (vehicles used for the carriage of passengers and comprising no more than eight seats in addition to the driver’s seat) and N1 (vehicles used for the carriage of goods and having a maximum mass not exceeding 3.5 tonnes).Europe-wide uniform eCall systems are currently not mandatory for HGVs and motorcycles. The I_HeERO EU research project has gained knowledge on the eCall function for motorcycles and HGVs which also serves as a basis for the further consultation of the EU Commission with the EU Member States.
How does eCall work if I travel abroad?
The provisions on eCall apply in all EU countries. When eCall is triggered manually or automatically in another European country, the uniform pan-European eCall will dial the Europe-wide 112 emergency number and establish a connection in the national language to the responsible rescue coordination centre. The minimum set of data is transmitted at the same time and is thus available for the emergency services to initiate rescue measures quickly.
In contrast, the TPS eCall contacts the responsible service provider who recognizes the language setting of the vehicle and establishes contact with the driver in the selected language.
What about data protection?
The 112-based eCall in-vehicle system and the TPS eCall service must in any case comply with the data privacy provisions laid down in Regulation (EU) 2015/758. Personal data may only be used for specific emergency situations and must not be retained longer than necessary for this purpose.
The vehicle manufacturer is obliged to take the necessary steps to ensure that the 112-based eCall in-vehicle system is not subject to constant tracking in its normal operational status. The manufacturer must further ensure that the data in the internal memory of the system are automatically and continuously removed and are not accessible to any other device than the in-vehicle system before the eCall is activated (Annex III to Regulation (EU) 2017/79). Tracking the vehicle’s movements by means of the eCall system is therefore not permitted.