Teaching Kids to Use OnStar

As a mom who travels solo almost all of the time, the kids and I are on the road a lot alone. Until recently, I never considered what my kids would do if something happened to me while I was driving. The odd time, one of the kids actually has my cell phone in the back seat but would they know to call 9-1-1? What if there was a better way for them to get help. Would they know how to use it?


Driving in Canada we have had a few roadside incidents.


Vehicles made by GMC, Chevrolet, Cadillac, and Buick are equipped with OnStar capabilities. Once you have an Onstar equipped car, getting started is incredibly easy. You just push the blue OnStar button in your car.

Emergency Capabilities

OnStar is equipped with an automatic crash response. In most car accidents, the OnStar system can tell your car has been damaged and whether or not you can press the red emergency button doesn’t matter. OnStar automatically initiates a direct connection between the car and an Emergency Advisor who sends your exact location to the local police, fire and ambulance response teams.

OnStar also encourages you to push the red button if you witness an accident, see people that need help or see a vehicle involved in an Amber Alert. Their policy is that you can push the red emergency button whenever you feel you need to.

An Emergency in the Car

What if you don’t get into an accident but are in trouble yourself? Would your kids know how to help?

A great example of kids using OnStar is the recording of a call made by 5-year-old Caden Drake. Caden’s mom passed out behind the wheel due to a reaction to her prescription medicine. In this situation, Caden’s mom had pulled over and was already on the phone trying to call her mother when she passed out. Caden picked up the phone and his grandmother told him to press the OnStar button. Onstar immediately located the vehicle while asking the boy questions to keep him calm. For a video news report of the incident and audio of the OnStar call click here.

If Caden’s grandmother hadn’t instructed him to do so, would he have known to call OnStar? The answer is probably no. That’s why it is important to teach your kids how to use OnStar.

Teaching your kids to use OnStar

If you have an OnStar equipped vehicle, it is important to teach your kids how to contact emergency services. Here’s exactly what they need to know:

-If the car is stopped it is okay to remove their seat belt to reach the button. Upon doing so, they should return to their seat and buckle up;

-The red OnStar button on the rearview mirror of the car is just like calling 9-1-1. Kids need to know its okay to press it whenever they need help;

-Teach your kids that OnStar will likely know where they are but to look around them and tell the emergency operator what they see;

-Tell your kids that they can trust the OnStar emergency advisor as they would a police officer and it is safe to talk to them and follow any directions given to them; and

-Tell your kids to stay on the line with OnStar until help arrives.

OnStar Kids

OnStar offers parents this activity page to help teach kids what to do in an emergency. In the future, I would love to see a second row Onstar button that was within the reach of children. I know this may sound absurd to some. I trust my kids on a daily basis not to call 9-1-1 unless it is a real emergency and I would like an optional accessible button in order to make OnStar easier to use from the second row. This would also eliminate the need to remove their seat belts.

Onstar kids

Comfort in Knowing Help is on the Way

As a mom who is always on the road alone with two kids under 6, I now realize how important it is to teach my kids what to do if something happens to me. I do not drive an OnStar equipped vehicle and I must say I would be more comfortable if I did.

Photo Credit: All photos of the OnStar system were provided by OnStar.

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