The Importance of Automatic Crash Notification in Vehicles

Automatic crash notification

A technological advancement that has the potential to save lives is automatic crash notification (ACN). ACN is a feature that comes built-in with many new cars and can automatically call for help in an emergency, even when the driver is unable to do so. This life-saving feature has been in use in the United States since OnStar debuted in 1996 and has proven to be effective in providing timely assistance during accidents.

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The Need for Standardization Automatic Crash Notification

While automatic crash notification is mandatory in most new cars sold in Europe, it remains an optional feature in the United States. What’s more, most automakers charge a subscription fee to keep the feature active, with prices often exceeding $100 a year. This fee-based approach raises concerns about accessibility and affordability, as not everyone can afford to pay for this crucial safety feature.

Consumer Reports (CR), a renowned nonprofit organization dedicated to advocating for consumer rights, conducted an investigation that revealed the widespread practice of charging fees for automatic crash notifications among automakers in the United States. According to their findings, only 14 car brands offer free automatic crash notifications on some of their vehicles, while seven others provide free trial periods of five years or longer. Shockingly, two automakers, Tesla and Fiat, do not offer this service at all in the U.S.

The Impact on Safety

The importance of automatic crash notification cannot be overstated. According to a study by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, more than 700 lives could be saved each year if all new vehicles were equipped with this safety feature. Additionally, a recent survey conducted by CR found that 51% of Americans consider it extremely or very important to have a system in their next vehicle that automatically calls emergency services when the airbags deploy.

The potential to save lives and reduce the severity of injuries makes automatic crash notification a critical feature in modern vehicles. It provides immediate assistance by alerting emergency services and providing them with the precise location of the vehicle involved in an accident. This timely response can significantly reduce the time it takes for help to arrive, especially in situations where the driver is incapacitated or unable to call for help.

The Call for Change

Recognizing the life-saving potential of automatic crash notification, Consumer Reports has launched a campaign to pressure automakers to make this feature standard in all new vehicles and provide it free of charge. Their goal is to ensure that every driver has access to this crucial safety feature without the burden of subscription fees.

To support their campaign, Consumer Reports initiated a petition that garnered over 20,000 signatures in just three days. The petition specifically targets automakers such as General Motors, Stellantis, Mitsubishi, Nissan, Subaru, Toyota, and Tesla, urging them to make automatic crash notifications available for free in all their models.

A Positive Response from Automakers

Consumer Reports’ advocacy efforts have already yielded positive results. One automaker, Hyundai, recently announced that it will include automatic crash notification for free in all new vehicles sold after 2024 as part of its BlueLink connected suite. In their statement, Hyundai acknowledged that CR’s advocacy played a role in their decision, emphasizing their commitment to providing customer benefits at no cost.

The inclusion of automatic crash notification as a standard feature by Hyundai sets a commendable precedent. It highlights the feasibility and importance of making this life-saving technology available to all consumers without additional charges. Consumer Reports hopes that more automakers will follow suit, prioritizing safety over profit.

Separating Safety from Convenience

One of the arguments automakers often put forth for charging fees for automatic crash notification is that it is bundled with other convenience features such as remote start, WiFi hotspots, and concierge services. However, Consumer Reports’ engineers have found that it is entirely feasible for automakers to separate automatic crash notification from these additional services and offer it free of charge while still charging for other connectivity features.

Consumer Reports believes that safety should never be treated as an optional add-on. They assert that while it may be acceptable for automakers to charge extra for convenience features, safety should always be a priority and accessible to all drivers. The organization emphasizes that people injured in a crash should not have critical medical care delayed simply because they choose not to pay for a non-essential feature.

Automatic crash notification is a crucial safety feature that has the potential to save lives in emergencies. Consumer Reports, along with thousands of concerned consumers, is pressuring automakers to make this feature standard in all new vehicles and keep it active without charging subscription fees. By championing the cause of safety over profit, they aim to create a safer driving experience for everyone. It is time for automakers to prioritize the well-being of their customers and make automatic crash notifications accessible to all.

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