The GM OnStar Failure in California Illustrates Need for Regulation

The GM OnStar Failure in California Illustrates Need for Regulation

October, 2014

Dear Care for Crash Victims Community Members:

The San Francisco Chronicle published an article on the rollover crash of a GM OnStar vehicle that failed to provide reliable location information to enable timely rescue.  Rescue was delayed for 19 hours after the crash before the driver was found and transported to an emergency medical facility for care.  Thankfully, due primarily to excellent work by police and rescue workers, the driver has survived.  See

The article noted: “Clarence Ditlow, who directs the Center for Auto Safety in Washington, D.C., said the government should regulate safety features like OnStar.”  Ditlow, a lawyer and engineer who has fought for auto safety for decades, is right.  Without a Federal regulation requiring minimum performance standards for Automatic Crash Notification, a potentially significant safety technology, the public is not being adequately protected.

The lady saved in this crash is fortunate to have been rescued.  How many Americans know that every year more than half the crash deaths are not taken to any medical facility for emergency treatment?   Nearly 50 Americans every day.  See

This crash demonstrates the technology is available to do much better – but the technology has been privatized without having to meet any minimum public health protection performance standards.  So it does not have to work to protect people – just short term profits.
This crash is an example of the failure of Federal safety officials to carry out their duties to protect people since 2000.
Last year I petitioned NHTSA to:
Recommend a National Goal for Timely and Optimal Treatment of Serious Crash Injuries within a decade.

Still waiting for a response from the captive agency as about 18,000 Americans die of crash injuries each year without transport to any facility for any level of emergency medical care. 


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