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Curbing Vehicle Thefts

OnStar capability assists subscribers in stolen car cases

Hollywood car chases may be a thing of the past thanks to OnStar's most recent technology. The GM safety service has developed a prototype technology that could save lives (and money) by remotely slowing down a stolen vehicle's engine in the event of a police chase.

The new technology - known as Stolen Vehicle Slowdown - is the latest enhancement to OnStar's stolen vehicle service. The program allows OnStar advisors and law enforcement agencies to work together during a car theft by sending a signal to the subscriber's stolen vehicle, reducing its engine power and gradually slowing it down. The service will be included in the one-year OnStar subscription customers receive when purchasing an eligible Model Year 2009 OnStar-equipped vehicle.

"From its inception, the motivation behind OnStar has been the safety and security of our subscribers and others on the road," said Chet Huber, OnStar president. "Every service we add builds on this original promise. The Stolen Vehicle Slowdown service will allow our subscribers added peace of mind by possibly preventing their vehicle from being used as an instrument of harm if it happens to be stolen."

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), nearly 30,000 police chases occur each year, resulting in approximately 300 deaths.

"Technology should not just entertain us or make us more comfortable, it should make us safer," said Nicole R. Nason, administrator of the NHTSA. "We applaud innovations such as the kind GM is embracing that will make our roads better, our passengers more protected and our drivers safer."

Many law enforcement agencies are also embracing the upcoming technology provided by OnStar.

"We look forward to having technologies like Stolen Vehicle Slowdown available to aid our officers in apprehending suspected car thieves and keeping our officers, highways and citizens safe," said David Hiller, national vice president of the Fraternal Order of Police. "Since 1996, OnStar has assisted the law enforcement community by helping to locate stolen vehicles."

Powered by OnStar's newest generation of hardware, Generation 8, GM will make Stolen Vehicle Slowdown available on nearly 1.7 million Model Year 2009 vehicles. GM's largest division, Chevrolet, will be leading the way, making up more than 60 percent of the vehicles to be equipped with the new technology. Stolen Vehicle Slowdown is an enhancement to OnStar's Stolen Vehicle Location Assistance, which the company began offering to its subscribers in 1996.

Stolen Vehicle Location Assistance uses Global Positioning Satellite technology to pinpoint the location of a vehicle that has been reported stolen. OnStar provides this location to law enforcement to assist with the vehicle's recovery. Every month, OnStar receives approximately 700 Stolen Vehicle Location Assistance requests from subscribers. In the past decade, the company has helped in 28,000 requests.

According to Chief Steven P. Westermann, president of the International Association of Fire Chiefs, Stolen Vehicle Slowdown could help prevent many dangerous road and neighborhood scenarios.

"The IAFC sees this technology as an opportunity to improve the likelihood of a positive outcome for all involved in such dangerous road situations. On behalf of all firefighters, we appreciate the research and commitment of General Motors to tackle these issues and come up with a safe solution."

The Stolen Vehicle Slowdown process

  • Once the vehicle has been reported stolen to law enforcement, the subscriber can call OnStar and request Stolen Vehicle Location Assistance. OnStar will confirm the subscriber has not opted out of the Stolen Vehicle Slowdown service.

  • OnStar will use real-time GPS technology to pinpoint the exact location of the stolen vehicle and provide this information to law enforcement agencies to help them recover the vehicle.

  • When law enforcement has established a clear line of sight for the stolen vehicle, it may request OnStar slow the vehicle down.

  • Safeguards will be in place to ensure that the correct vehicle is slowed down.

  • OnStar then sends a remote signal to the vehicle that interacts with the powertrain system to reduce engine power, slowing the vehicle down gradually.

Research has shown that 95 percent of OnStar subscribers want the Stolen Vehicle Slowdown service available on their cars and trucks. OnStar subscribers have the choice to opt-out of the Stolen Vehicle Slowdown service at any time by contacting OnStar. This will not affect the rest of the driver's OnStar services.

Source: OnStar