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October 13, 2008

OnStar Launches Stolen Vehicle Slowdown to Help End Vehicle Chases

Freewaychase How many of us have watched those crazy chase scenes on television and youtube only to watch the criminal crash the car and damage cars around himself, or even worse, crash the car and kill himself or innocent bystanders? Well, there's lots of reasons to love OnStar, and here's another one.

General Motors and OnStar have just launched a "Stolen Vehicle Slowdown" feature on more than a million 2009-model-year GM vehicles in the U.S. and Canada. Stolen Vehicle Slowdown is the latest enhancement to OnStar's Stolen Vehicle Assistance service and enables OnStar to further help law enforcement in the recovery of subscribers' stolen vehicles, while helping to reduce fatalities and injuries resulting from police chases. Working with law enforcement and utilizing its unique built-in technology, OnStar can remotely send a signal that interacts with the vehicle's engine, gradually slowing it down, aiding in a safe recovery.

Onstar_logo_s "No other automaker provides its customers the peace of mind that OnStar Stolen Vehicle Slowdown does," said Chet Huber, OnStar president. "Our subscribers have told us they don't want their vehicle to be the instrument of harm." Awesome. (Hopefully, drivers will have the presence of mind to grab their purse or cellphone as the thief is stealing their car.)

Onstar_stolen_vehicle_slowdown In that case, as soon as the customer contacts law enforcement and OnStar to let them know their vehicle has been stolen, Onstar can make a cellular connection to the vehicle to help police officers locate the vehicle. As soon as the police indicate it is safe to do so, the OnStar call center sends a signal to the vehicle to activate the Stolen Vehicle Slowdown, interacting with the powertrain to ignore input from the accelerator vehicle until the vehicle coasts down to idle speed. All other vehicle functions remain intact, so hopefully the evil thief will be kind enough to pull on the emergency brake or put the vehicle into park before trying to make a run for it on foot. After that, it's police business, and he'd better hope Vic Mackey isn't his arresting officer.

National Highway Traffic Safety Administration statistics show 30,000 police chases occur each year, resulting in approximately 300 deaths. Stolen Vehicle Slowdown will help take high-speed pursuits out of the equation, as well as the probability that a subscriber's stolen vehicle will be crashed during a chase.

How_it_works_2 "Prior to Stolen Vehicle Slowdown, there were only three ways to stop a police chase; the officer elects to terminate the chase, the vehicle being pursued decides to stop, or in the worse-case scenario there is a crash," said David Hiller, national vice president, Fraternal Order of Police. "With OnStar Stolen Vehicle Slowdown we now have an additional and obviously far safer method. We congratulate GM and OnStar for working with law enforcement as they developed this product."

Because involvement from local law enforcement agencies is key to the safe execution of Stolen Vehicle Slowdown, OnStar conducted a 25-city public safety outreach tour across the United States to familiarize the public safety community with this revolutionary service, and let them experience the technology first-hand. AskPatty had the opportunity to experience one of these demos at the recent 2009 GM Product Showcase, and trust me, it's awesome!

According to press materials, OnStar has offered Stolen Vehicle Assistance services with GPS location since 1996. It now receives approximately 700 Stolen Vehicle Assistance requests from subscribers each month, and has helped in 38,000 requests over the past 12 years. Even if you don't require such theft assistance, OnStar's suite of services also includes automatic crash response, emergency services, remote door unlock, roadside assistance, crisis assist, OnStar turn-by-turn navigation, hands-free calling, and OnStar vehicle diagnostics.

As the occasional driver of press evaluation cars equipped with it, I can attest to its true convenience. Once, turn-by-turn navigation even helped me find my way back to a press drive destination after I discovered I had gone 30 miles in the wrong direction and was so lost on a remote Arkansas backroad, I couldn't even find a road sign to help pinpoint my location.

Subscribers who prefer not to have the Stolen Vehicle Slowdown capability on their vehicle may contact OnStar to opt out of the service at any time. The rest of their OnStar services will remain active and unaffected. But, with the statistics above, I can't imagine why anyone would choose to turn this feature off! For more information regarding OnStar's services, check out www.onstar.com.

Brandy_schaffels_s By Brandy Schaffels
AskPatty.com Editor
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