With the push of the OnStar button, drivers can obtain turn-by-turn directions, summon roadside assistance, or initiate a vehicle diagnostics check.  -  Photo: General Motors

With the push of the OnStar button, drivers can obtain turn-by-turn directions, summon roadside assistance, or initiate a vehicle diagnostics check.

Photo: General Motors

According to government statistics, the number of auto-related deaths in the U.S. has been decreasing. As vehicle manufacturers introduce new safety systems, this number will continue to drop. General Motors is one manufacturer that emphasizes driver protection through new safety-enhancing technologies such as Side Blind Zone Alert and Lane Departure Warning.

However, in the event a crash does take place, or a driver simply runs out of gas or gets lost, GM vehicles with OnStar offer immediate help. The in-vehicle security, communications, and diagnostics system — available on 27 GM truck, van, and SUV models — is being used increasingly in fleets.

"There are currently hundreds of national fleets representing thousands of active OnStar-equipped GM vehicles on today’s highways," said Fritz Beiermeister, director of business sales and marketing for OnStar. "We’ve been doing business with commercial fleets for more than 10 years."

Beiermeister credits OnStar’s growing use among fleets to the system’s help in decreasing downtime, increasing productivity, and producing cost savings.

For instance, about one in 10 drivers use the OnStar unlock service in a given year, according to OnStar. Since the OnStar system can unlock a vehicle door remotely, drivers are back in action within minutes or even seconds.

"So the driver not only saves money, but time as well," Beiermeister said. "The bottom line is that we are only one button-press away for help."

Beiermeister recently conducted a sample of 40,000 fleet vehicles equipped with OnStar. About 140 of those vehicles had activated the auto crash notification, and 1,983 had registered emergency button presses.

OnStar's Technologies Enhance Driver Safety

The OnStar system includes not only emergency services, and crisis, roadside, and stolen vehicle location assistance, but also vehicle diagnostics, maintenance alerts, and turn-by-turn navigation. Features include:

  • OnStar vehicle diagnostics. With OnStar vehicle diagnostics, about every 30 days, each vehicle’s key systems, such as the engine, airbags, and anti-lock brakes, are checked while the vehicle is in use.

"An automatic e-mail report is sent to the driver and/or fleet manager, containing current mileage, remaining oil life, maintenance alerts, subscription notices, etc.," Beiermeister said.

Between monthly reports, drivers can also request a GM Goodwrench On Demand Diagnostic check by pressing the vehicle’s blue OnStar button.

  • Business Vehicle Manager summaries. These summaries can be sent to a fleet manager or a fleet management company.
  • OnStar hands-free voice-activated calling. The system features a built-in, voice-activated calling feature. Drivers just press the OnStar button and speak a telephone number into the system. "This keeps eyes on the road and hands on the wheel," Beiermeister said.

Other system features include automatic notification of airbag deployment, remote door unlock, accident assist, and a virtual advisor for local traffic reports, weather reports, and stock quotes.

Originally posted on Work Truck Online

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Cheryl Knight

Cheryl Knight


Cheryl Knight has more than 20 years of editing and writing experience on topics ranging from advanced technology, to automotive fleet management, to business management.

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