Advanced Automatic Collision Notification

Calling for Help when You Can't

car zaps or shocks
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Automatic collision notification (ACN) refers to a number of different OEM systems that are capable of calling for help after an accident has occurred. OnStar is one of the most prominent systems that includes automatic collision notification, but BMW Assist, Toyota’s Safety Connect, Ford’s 911 Assist, and other systems perform many of the same basic functions. Since the driver and passengers of a vehicle may be incapacitated after a crash, these systems are typically capable of summoning emergency services if an operator determines it is necessary.

How Does Automatic Collision Notification Work

Each automatic collision notification system is slightly different, but most of them are tied into a vehicle’s infotainment system. When specific events occur, such as a deployed airbag, the ACN will activate. In most cases, it will connect to an operator who will attempt to communicate with the driver or passengers. If that isn’t possible, the operator can contact emergency services and provide them with information about the accident.

In other cases, an ACN will place a call directly to emergency services after an accident has occurred. Systems with this feature typically provide the driver or passenger an option to cancel the call in case it was activated accidentally.

How Was Automatic Collision Notification Developed

Collision notification systems and services have been independently developed by a number of OEMs, but OnStar was one of the first commercially available products that allowed automatic communication with an operator via a CDMA cell phone connection.

Due to the large installation base and experience of OnStar in the field, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) partnered with the GM subsidiary to create a basis for advanced automatic collision notification. The CDC convened an expert panel that analyzed crash telemetry, and they created a report that provides advice on how to use crash telemetry to determine the likely severity of injuries and, in turn, provide more effective emergency care.

Who Can Take Advantage of Collision Notification

The availability of automatic collision notification is limited to newer vehicles that include an OEM-specific service like OnStar, Safety Connect, or 911 Assist. Most of the OEMs now offer ACN in one form or another, though it’s necessary to check the specific make and model of a vehicle to ensure that it comes with the feature.

Owners of many older vehicles can also gain the protection of ACN by using a product like OnStar’s FMV. While FMV doesn’t provide all of the same services as traditional OnStar, the device is capable of contacting an operator if it detects a crash.

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