Good news for older drivers — or anyone who wants to have more peace of mind about the safety of an aging parent or elderly loved one who is still behind the wheel…
As of July 24, you’ll be able to retrofit just about ANY vehicle with OnStar — the emergency aid and vehicle location system from General Motors that has only been available on new GM vehicles. The aftermarket version of OnStar, called OnStar FMV (For My Vehicle), is actually a replacement rear-view mirror unit which contains the OnStar technology.
The core appeal for safety-minded older drivers is the simplicity of being able to get emergency help from a live person with the push of a button — and the peace of mind knowing that the system can detect accidents and send emergency help even if you cannot push that button.
In other words, if you or an aging parent or loved one is in an accident, you don’t have to rely on having a mobile phone — or being able to use one in a high-stress situation — in order to get help.
Also critical: The OnStar service will connect you or your loved one with a trained “emergency advisor” during an emergency. Whether an older driver has been in an accident, suffered a medical emergency, or has just become confused or lost, being able to speak with a live person can be enormously reassuring and calming.
Although OnStar FMV gives you access to the same core services that GM builds into new Chevy, Buik, GMC, and Cadillac vehicles, most aging drivers will probably find the basic emergency response and roadside assistance services most useful:
• Automatic Crash Response, triggered by an accelerometer in the unit, connects the vehicle to a trained OnStar emergency advisor in the event of a crash. The advisor can provide the exact location of the crash to emergency responders using the mirror’s GPS location, even if the vehicle’s occupants are unable to respond.
• Emergency Services, summoned by pushing the red button, bring specially trained emergency advisors on the line immediately to help in a crisis, such as witnessing a collision or a crime in progress.
• Roadside Assistance for non-emergency situations, such as a mechanical breakdown or a flat tire, is a blue-button push away.
• Stolen Vehicle Location Assistance uses OnStar FMV’s global positioning satellite system to provide a stolen vehicle’s location to law enforcement officials.
OnStar also offers a Turn-by-Turn Navigation service, an upgrade that may be worth every penny to technophobic older drivers who want nothing to do with dashboard navigation systems. Instead, the driver pushes the blue button to give an advisor a specific address or location. The advisor downloads directions to the unit, which plays back spoken turn-by-turn directions to the destination.
This is a much easier and safer navigation solution for older drivers who don’t want to riskbeing distracted by looking at an LCD screen, or who don’t always safe leaving the car to ask for directions. OnStar FMV is also compatible with hands-free calling through a Blue-Tooth connection to a mobile phone.
OnStar FMV will sell for $300 and will initially be available at Best Buy stores, where you can also have it installed for $75. The system will also be available through other chain and online retailers, but you’ll still need to have the unit installed professionally. The basic service plans start at $18.95 per month, or $199.95 per year. Adding the Turn-by-Turn Navigation option (which is bundled with optional hands-free calling for a mobile phone) costs 28.90 per month or $299 per year.
For more information, check out the OnStar FMV website.