If you’ve missed one of the thousands of OnStar commercials then you probably don’t know that OnStar is General Motors in-car safety and security system which could just be the next big thing in automotive safety. It relies on telemetric technology to communicate both voice and data from the vehicle to OnStar centers. In other words it’s like an iPhone on steroids.
First introduced in 1996 at the Chicago Automotive Show, OnStar is now on its ninth version of its software package and it makes the first version look like an old Admiral Computer program. Today there is a new emphasis on driver safety that could have a bigger impact on improving driver safety than seat belts have had.
Currently only available on GM and Saab vehicles, OnStar represents an important competitive advantage over the competition. And that advantage isn’t limited to just the United States. OnStar operates control centers in Canada and China as well.
Here’s a quick list of some OnStar features and how they work
- Onboard 411 and 911. Thanks to the hands free communication feature a driver, or a passenger can instantly call an OnStar response center with the touch of a button to request emergency service or simply to ask directions. Pushing a second button transmits the car’s exact location. With OnStar you are always in touch with outside assistance.
- Advanced Automatic Crash Response (AACR). This is the next big thing in driver safety. If the car is involved in any kind of collision, not just ones that cause the air bags to deploy, an OnStar response center will be notified. The center will call the car and confirm there was a crash and ask if medical assistance is required. If the OnStar center calls and the driver is nonresponsive, OnStar will automatically dispatch emergency vehicles.
- Vehicle diagnostics. Backing up the driver safety programs is a new service that automatically runs a diagnostic on the vehicle to spot potential system failures. The results of the diagnostic check are emailed to the owner each month.
- Stolen Vehicle Services. If you report your car stolen to the police OnStar will work with them to locate the vehicle and if requested by the police, slow it down. That’s right, OnStar can remotely slow the vehicle down which reduces the risk of high speed chases and increase the odds that your car will be recovered intact.
Other benefits of OnStar
The system comes with other “convenience” services for car owners like remotely unlocking doors, flashing headlights when you can’t find your car in a parking lot and providing emergency roadside service as well.
Subscription rates for OnStar are very affordable. It’s the cell phone minutes that you have to buy that can drive the price up. Remember this system works much like an iPhone in terms of voice and data transmission.
There is a way to cut the overall price and that’s by shopping for the right car insurance. If you compare car insurance quotes you might find that you get a discount on comprehensive coverage because of the stolen car features. And don’t be to surprised that free health insurance quotes start offering discounts as well once the benefits of the driver safety features have been validated.
With three kids Laura Penekamp is a pretty busy stay at home mom. However her love of saving money for the family wherever she can has launched a part time freelance career offering tips on how to stretch family budgets.