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Woman’s car hands her over to police following hit-and-run crash

Mon 7 Dec 2015

Hit and run

A Florida woman has been arrested for rear-ending two vehicles and fleeing the scene, after her own car alerted the police to the incident.

Police in Port St. Lucie said that they had managed to track down 57-year-old Cathy Bernstein, thanks to the Emergency Assistance safety feature installed in her Ford car. The system launches when its sensors detect a sudden change in speed or movement. At this point, an emergency call is directed to a local response team who are then able to map the exact location of the accident using data fed from the GPS.

An audio recording also revealed how Bernstein tried to convince a responder that there was no cause for concern. She is heard saying, “Ma’am, there’s no problem. Everything was fine.”

The dispatcher, suspecting Bernstein was not accurately describing the situation, responded: “OK, but your car called in saying you’d been involved in an accident. It doesn’t do that for no reason. Did you leave the scene of an accident?” To which Bernstein replied: “No, I would never do that.”

Following the hospitalisation of one of the drivers involved in the accident, authorities arrested Bernstein. Police went to her home to find that her Ford had extensive front-end damage and was flecked with silver paint matching one of the hit vehicles.

Emergency assist technology is being placed in an increasing amount of modern vehicles, with experts claiming the system could speed up response times by up to 50%. Recently, the EU passed a regulation requiring that all vehicles sold from March 2018 must be fitted with eCall, which works in a similar way to Ford’s software.

While privacy campaigners have raised concern over government use of the technology to permanently track a car’s movements, they have been told that the new measures would only allow for the temporary collection of GPS information in the event of an emergency – after which it must be erased.

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