What Does SOS Mean in a Car? Understanding eCall and Safety Features

July 9, 2024

The implementation of the eCall system has revolutionized automobile safety. As mandated since 2018, all cars sold in the UK must feature this system, which connects the vehicle to emergency services during a crash or medical emergency. This article explores what does SOS mean in a car, the functionalities of the eCall system, and its impact on road safety.

What Does SOS Mean in a Car?

Understanding what does SOS mean in a car is crucial for modern drivers. The SOS button in a vehicle is designed to automatically connect the driver to the local emergency services call center, providing the car's exact GPS location. This feature significantly reduces response times in emergencies, potentially saving lives. Statistics show that the eCall system saves about 2,500 lives annually across Europe by enabling quicker emergency responses.

what does sos mean in a car
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How the eCall System Works

The eCall system is activated either manually by pressing the SOS button or automatically if the car's airbags deploy. In either scenario, critical information such as location and the number of passengers is transmitted to emergency services. Jeep Connect, for example, offers a button that automatically places an SOS call once airbags deploy, ensuring that help is dispatched promptly without the driver's intervention.

Why Not to Misuse the SOS Button

It's important to use the SOS button only for genuine emergencies. Pressing it during a car breakdown is not appropriate, as it is meant for life-threatening situations. In the event of a breakdown, other services such as the breakdown button, which connects drivers to their manufacturer's call center, should be used instead.
Accidental presses of the SOS button are also a concern, but most systems provide instructions on how to cancel the call if this happens.

The Broader System Network

The eCall system operates in Europe and connects to the 112 emergency service. While some vehicles, like those from Vauxhall, offered additional services under the Onstar Europe initiative—like restaurant recommendations—these were discontinued in December 2020. Modern vehicles often come equipped with additional buttons for various manufacturer concierge services, providing a wide range of assistance beyond emergency calls.

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