posted 3 years ago

UK Drivers Unclear on EU Emergency Number

Motorists that holiday in Europe this summer risk their safety by not knowing what number to call in an emergency, RAC claims.

Drivers that cross the channel this holiday season risk being caught out by not knowing the local emergency number, the RAC reported. The breakdown specialist said – based on the results of its survey – that only 38% know to call 112 for police, fire and medial services in the European Union. The survey also showed that 6% of travellers would dial 911 which applies to the United States of America and Canada. Furthermore, 10% would phone 111 which is the UK-based, non-emergency, number for the National Health Service. 5% favour 101 which is the UK, non-emergency, police line.

Serious Consequences 

The RAC said this lack of knowledge - that could have serious consequences following a collision - is “particularly concerning” as 6 million people are likely to travel to Europe in 2015. Phone number 112 relates to all 28 Member States within the European Union including the United Kingdom where, of course, it serves alongside 999. 112 also applies to: Iceland, Norway, Switzerland, Turkey, Serbia, Montenegro, Kosovo, Albania, Ukraine, Russia and Georgia. The RAC said motorists “need not be concerned” by language barriers as in many cases a call is answered by an English speaker. 

David Huggon, RAC Manager of Euro-wide Breakdown Operations, said: "We all recognise 999 as the main emergency phone number in the UK, but it appears that once we've left the country we leave our knowledge of who to ring in an emergency behind too.” On this basis, the RAC said its survey exposed widespread “ignorance” and encouraged motorists to get “clued-up”. Mr Huggon continued: “The 112 number works right across the EU (but) doesn't get a lot of promotion - certainly not in Britain - where we have 999”. He explained that publicity on the mainland continent is also very limited but there is electronic motorway signage in some countries.

Ford SYNC Emergency Assistance

To some extent, technology compensates for a motorist's lack of knowledge. The Ford SYNC Emergency Assistance system is connected via Bluetooth to a smartphone, for example. If the vehicle has a collision, it automatically contacts the emergency services then plays a pre-recorded message to the operator in the local dialect. It functions in “more than 40 regions across Europe”, Ford says.

Ford Sync Display

The system then relays the car's position via GPS to minimise the response time. Once the pre-recorded message is complete the driver can speak to the operator. Furthermore, the call can be cancelled - before connecting – should the motorist not require any assistance.

Number What it is for Where it works
112 Emergency assistance All of the European Union
999 * Emergency assistance United Kingdom
911 Emergency assistance All of North America
101 ** Police non-emergency assistance United Kingdom
111 NHS non-emergency assistance England and Scotland, and Wales from October 2015
source: RAC/ Ofcom