We were wondering how long it would take before OnStar's Stolen Vehicle Slowdown service was used to prevent a high speed chase. Though announced nearly two years ago, the service that allows OnStar to remotely disable a vehicle's gas pedal is still not yet available on all GM models – for 2010, about 18 of 30 vehicles in the lineup have the capability. Early Sunday morning, however, police in Visalia, California were the first to work with OnStar to remotely disable the engine of a stolen 2009 Chevrolet Tahoe and prevent what would have certainly been a high-speed chase. The vehicle in question was allegedly carjacked by a 21-year-old armed with a sawed off shotgun.
The Associated Press reports that the armed assailant pointed a sawed off shotgun at vehicle owner Jose Ruiz and his cousin and demanded their money. After robbing the men, the unwitting thief made off with the Tahoe. Ruiz then found a police officer who called OnStar and had the vehicle tracked, but only after Ruiz gave his permission to do so. OnStar then worked with police to ensure officers were in place to make an arrest, and when the robber made a turn the massive SUV harmlessly came to a stop. OnStar President Walt Dorfstatter told the AP it only took 16 minutes to disable the vehicle. The arrested suspect in the case has been charged with carjacking, robbery, possession of a stolen vehicle and resisting arrest.
Visalia police told the AP that OnStar likely averted a high speed chase, potentially saving lives since most chases end in a crash. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration says there were 334 fatalities stemming from high speed chases, with 77 of those deaths of people not directly involved in the chase and five officer fatalities.
[Source: Associated Press]