There are several automotive communication systems available in vehicles today, but the granddaddy of them all is General Motors’ OnStar.
OnStar was developed in 1996 so people in their cars could get help easily and quickly during an emergency. All you do is push a button on a console and you are instantly connected with an OnStar advisor. The advisor can pinpoint your exact location and relay your problem to emergency services. The blue OnStar button allows you to contact a live or virtual advisor. The red button with the cross on it is for emergencies. The phone, or white-dot button, allows you to make phone calls in a hands-free mode.
Onboard communication devices like OnStar are very important for grands in the event the driver experiences a health issue or an accident that causes unconsciousness.
It’s important for our valued passengers-our grandchildren-to know how to press the emergency red button. Discuss with them (within age comprehension) what the buttons stand for, how to press them and what to say to the OnStar advisor. It’s no different from teaching them how to call 911 at home.
With OnStar, grandparents are totally hip and trendy. You can use the concierge entertainment feature to ask for the nearest movie theater, what movies are playing and the starting times. You can then have the GPS feature give you turn-by-turn directions to get you there.
What about the remote door unlocks? If you lock your keys in the car when you’ve been distracted by an active grandkid, OnStar will send a cellular data signal to the car’s computers to unlock them. Other features include stolen vehicle location, accident assist, remote horn and lights, e-mail, sports scores and stock quotes. Learn more here
The onboard communication devices in cars can make your day carefree and fun-and they also can save your life. Most GM models come with basic OnStar at no charge for one year; after that, you can renew or upgrade in three levels. The price for OnStar ranges from $17 to $70 per month. For the cost of adding texting to your cell plan, you can make your vehicle a safer, healthier environment for your family.
Cathy Droz is a test-car driver for the boomer generation. She and her on-air partner review autos on their Phoenix radio show. To hear their podcasts, click here and then click on the radio show link.