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New system stops cars in their tracks

April 24, 2008 12:00:00 AM PDT
With the aim of saving hundreds of lives each year, new technology is trying to put the brakes on dangerous high-speed police pursuits. Police pursuits happen almost everyday in Southern California. Law enforcement officers try to safely end a chase before people are hurt or even killed.

Click in the Eyewitness News story window above to watch Melissa MacBride's report.

They sometimes use the PITT maneuver or spike strips to end a pursuit. Now there is new technology to stop a suspect in their tracks.

"We are the first to do anything like this. We are a pioneering the way," said Brad Williams an OnStar representative.

GM cars and trucks models from 2009 that are equipped with OnStar have what is called, Stolen Vehicle Slowdown.

Once an owner reports that their car has been stolen OnStar works with police.

The OnStar advisor sends a signal to the car that interacts with the power train system which will prevent the driver from accelerating.

"First and for most we will flash the four way lights so law enforcement knows that we are slowing down the correct vehicle. We do not want to slow down the wrong vehicle so we will make a safety check there. At that point what we will do is we will let law enforcement tell us again that the conditions are safe to slow the vehicle down," adds Williams.

Law enforcement personnel in Southern California are learning about the technology. Police in Michigan have already seen it in action.

"Right away all of the police officers had the same reaction, "This is great." It really has a lot of potential for us," said Col. Peter Munoz from the Michigan State Police Department.

According to the National Traffic Highway Safety Administration 300 people are killed every year during police pursuits.

General Motors hopes that the new OnStar feature, in 1.7 million of its new vehicles, can help reduce that statistic.

"If we could just save one life, we know that we have done our jobs," said Williams.

The Stolen Vehicle Slowdown, is going to be a standard feature on OnStar vehicles for 2009 models and after that it will cost consumers $199 a year.

 

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