Emerging technology could soon be used to stem high-speed police chases, which kill hundreds and injure thousands every year, reports USA Today. OnStar, the General Motors unit that manufactures GPS systems for vehicles, offers technology in which an OnStar operator can send a signal to a stolen vehicle, restricting its fuel flow and slowing it to 3-5 mph. The technology is available on about 1 million 2009 GM vehicles.
Another company, Virginia Beach-based StarChase, is field-testing a laser-guided launcher on the front grill of a police car that fires projectiles that stick on fleeing vehicles, enabling police to track the car by GPS. The system, which has been tested by police in Columbus, Ohio, and Suffolk County, N.Y., is in final testing by the Los Angeles Police Department. “That kind of technology is exactly what we need,” says Geoff Alpert, a criminologist at the University of South Carolina. “One of the most powerful tools the police have is to turn off their lights and siren because the pursued suspect will slow down.” David Hiller, national vice president of the Fraternal Order of Police and chief of the 44-officer police department in Grosse Pointe Park, Mich., calls the OnStar technology “very effective.” Last year, 424 people were killed in police chases, according to federal statistics. Alpert says the actual number is 800-900.