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June 08, 2005 -- The roads are full of parents, guardians and caregivers traveling in vehicles with precious cargo onboard - children. Whether they are being driven to and from school, daycare, or extracurricular activities, children spend a lot of time in vehicles. In fact, children ages six to 18 spend an average of one hour a day in cars, according a National Household Travel Survey conducted every six years by the U.S. Department of Transportation.

National Child Passenger Safety Week occurs each year during the week of Valentine's Day, bringing public attention to issues of transporting children. In a recent study conducted by OnStar, 76 percent of women surveyed said they would be concerned about traveling alone in a deserted area with their children. So, it is important for parents and caregivers to teach their children when and how to contact help from an automobile in the event of an emergency.

Leta White of Norwood, Ohio, was hiking in the Smoky Mountains in Tennessee with her 12-year-old son and his friend, but this trip turned out to be more of an adventure than they ever imagined.

Nearly three miles from the end of the trail Leta broke her leg, so she turned to the boys for help. Tommy and his friend hiked back to the family's 2002 Chevrolet TrailBlazer. They pressed the OnStar emergency button and were relieved to hear a voice answer their call for help.

The OnStar advisor connected the boys with park rangers and help was soon dispatched. After being on the mountain nearly 12 hours, the rescue teams reached Leta and carried her to safety. She later underwent surgery to repair three broken bones in her leg.

Absent of emergencies, there are some caregivers who feel it is their responsibility to show children how to call for help when an emergency does occur.

Daycare provider Marica Iannacone, of Danbury, Conn., has taught the children she cares for more than how to share toys and pick up after themselves. Marica teaches the kids - who range in age from six months to eight years old - how to contact OnStar for help in the event of an emergency.

"I have taught my children that if we are ever in a crash of any kind, that all they have to do is push the sign of the 'cross' button," Iannacone said, referring to the OnStar emergency button. "I consider the OnStar advisors God's angels and I let the children know that all they have to say is "help" and the angels will send help."

OnStar has on occasion responded to emergency calls placed by children whose parents had become ill while driving. Here are some tips:

  • Talk to your children about how and when to dial 911, or how to use an in-vehicle communication system, such as OnStar, during an emergency.
  • Explain to your children that 911 can be a source of help to them during an emergency.
  • Teach children to give their full name and remain as calm as possible when speaking with the 911 operator or OnStar advisor so that they can send appropriate help as quickly as possible.
  • Stay on the line until the operator says it is OK to hang up.

Every day, an estimated 200,000 calls are made to 911 using wireless technology, according to the Cellular Telecommunications & Internet Association (CTIA). OnStar responds to about 13,000 emergency calls each month.

OnStar continues to work closely with emergency personnel to report thousands of motor vehicle emergencies every year. Between November 2004 and January 2005, OnStar responded to a monthly average of:

  • 900 airbag notifications
  • 400 stolen vehicle location requests
  • 20,000 roadside assistance

In addition, General Motors and OnStar have been in the forefront of child passenger safety. GM has partnered with National Safe Kids organization for programs such as Safe Kids Buckle Up education, child restraint check ups at GM dealerships, and Never Leave Your Child Alone. OnStar has joined with the National Center of Missing and Exploited Children to help find missing children as part of the AMBER Alert program.

Affirming its commitment to safety and security, General Motors will make OnStar and electronic stability control (ESC) standard features on all retail vehicles for customers in the United States and Canada. The expansion of OnStar will be completed by 2007, and the ESC rollout will be complete by 2010.

"Only General Motors offers a full range of cars, trucks and SUVs that provide safety features that operate before, during, and, thanks to OnStar , after a crash," said Robert C. Lange, GM executive director, Structure and Safety Integration.

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