New car models will have to be fitted with devices that will automatically alert rescue services when a car crashes from 2018.

The decision was made by members of the European Parliament in Strasbourg today.

The aim of the in-vehicle emergency system is to improve road safety across the EU.

It's estimated the device will reduce the number of deaths by 10 per cent a year.

25,700 people died in EU road accidents in 2014.

Privacy concerns were raised by MEPs over the eCall system, due to the tracking device which alerts emergency services on impact.

Under new rules which were agreed on today, the automatic call will give basic minimum data, such as the type of vehicle, the fuel used, the time of the accident, the exact location and number of passengers.

Manufacturers, who will have to equip all new models of passenger cars and light commercial vehicles by March 2018, will also have to ensure that the technology design permits permanent deletion of data gathered.