Location

Aspen, Colorado, USA

Date

17-8-2001

Session

Invited Speaker - Richard Young

Abstract

A study was done of a cellular telephone system embedded in a vehicle by the vehicle manufacturer. This study examined voice calls to a service advisor made with a single button press (an OnStar call). The OnStar system also automatically places a call to an advisor notifying of an airbag deployment (an airbag call). The main objective of this study was to determine the probability of an airbag-deployment crash, given that an OnStar call was in progress. The complete OnStar database from October 1996 to May 2001 was searched for all occurrences of OnStar calls associated with airbag calls. In the total population of about eight million OnStar calls, there were eight cases of an OnStar voice conversation being followed in less than 10 minutes by an airbag call. The advisor’s written comments in these eight cases indicated there were even fewer cases, likely only two, in which the phone was actually in use at the time of the crash. The comments contained no specific indications that the OnStar calls contributed to causing the crashes, but did contain indications of other possible causes, such as a driver’s selfreport of drowsiness. The conclusions are: (1) An embedded cell phone call with an advisor followed by airbag-deployment crash within 10 minutes is rare, occurring at a frequency of one event per million calls during the fiveyear period of the study; (2) An embedded cell phone in use at the time of an airbag-deployment crash is even more rare, occurring at a frequency of one event per four million calls; (3) Embedded cell phone usage uniquely causing an airbag-deployment crash occurs even more rarely.

Rights

Copyright © 2001 the author(s)

DC Citation

Proceedings of the First International Driving Symposium on Human Factors in Driver Assessment, Training and Vehicle Design, 14-17 August 2001, Aspen, Colorado. Iowa City, IA: Public Policy Center, of Iowa, 2001: 390-400.

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Aug 17th, 12:00 AM

Association Between Embedded Cellular Phone Calls and Vehicle Crashes Involving Airbag Deployment

Aspen, Colorado, USA

A study was done of a cellular telephone system embedded in a vehicle by the vehicle manufacturer. This study examined voice calls to a service advisor made with a single button press (an OnStar call). The OnStar system also automatically places a call to an advisor notifying of an airbag deployment (an airbag call). The main objective of this study was to determine the probability of an airbag-deployment crash, given that an OnStar call was in progress. The complete OnStar database from October 1996 to May 2001 was searched for all occurrences of OnStar calls associated with airbag calls. In the total population of about eight million OnStar calls, there were eight cases of an OnStar voice conversation being followed in less than 10 minutes by an airbag call. The advisor’s written comments in these eight cases indicated there were even fewer cases, likely only two, in which the phone was actually in use at the time of the crash. The comments contained no specific indications that the OnStar calls contributed to causing the crashes, but did contain indications of other possible causes, such as a driver’s selfreport of drowsiness. The conclusions are: (1) An embedded cell phone call with an advisor followed by airbag-deployment crash within 10 minutes is rare, occurring at a frequency of one event per million calls during the fiveyear period of the study; (2) An embedded cell phone in use at the time of an airbag-deployment crash is even more rare, occurring at a frequency of one event per four million calls; (3) Embedded cell phone usage uniquely causing an airbag-deployment crash occurs even more rarely.