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Reach for Onstar -- Now just an Arm's Length Away

Shouldn't every car have one of those emergency systems that allows a driver communicate with a command center in the event of a vehicular emergency? Now everyone can. General Motors announced that it will offer its OnStar safety and connectivity system to owners of non-G.M. cars.

The new aftermarket Onstar system is packaged within a rearview mirror and will be available at Best Buy for $299, not including installation and a fee for the service. G.M. expects installation to cost from $75 to $100. Service plans begin at $18.95 per month, or $199 per year.

The aftermarket version is similar to the OnStar system that has been available in G.M. cars since 1996. It links the vehicle to OnStar's command center through a built-in cellular device. When an accelerometer in the mirror detects impact, a call is automatically placed to the command center. Additionally, drivers can summon emergency responders by pressing a red button on the mirror.

The system will also offer OnStar's navigation and built-in phone capabilities (available at an additional cost).

The new OnStar system is smaller than the original. Because of miniaturization, all the technology is entirely packed within the mirror's body.

My husband once accidentally hit the Onstar button while adjusting his rearview mirror and couldn't figure out why a woman's voice was asking him if he'd had an accident. Have you had any Onstar incidents? Let me know here.

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