Go to main content
Meta Title

Do you know what to do if ...

Meta Long Description

What you should do if you see someone driving erratically or without their headlights on? OnStar has tips to help with those “What do I do if…” situations.

Meta Short Description

What you should do if you see someone driving erratically or without their headlights on? OnStar has tips to help with those “What do I do if…” situations.

Meta Button Label


Meta Background Image
Meta Background Position

65% 90%

Meta Article Icon


Meta Article Subtitle
Meta Article Subtitle 2
Meta Article Subtitle 3
Meta Button URL

Driving — and life — can lead to unexpected situations. OnStar Advisors are available 24/7 to talk you through the safest course of action in any situation, but let’s test your instincts. What should you do if …

You see someone driving erratically?

“Make sure you stay clear of them,” advises Lt. Michael Shaw, a public information officer with the Michigan State Police. “A lot of times people get into crashes because they’re trying to do the right thing, like get a license plate number, etc.” If you believe the situation is a true danger to others on the road, a call to the authorities is appropriate — either by pushing your red Emergency button*16 or having a passenger call 911. “It could be someone in a medical crisis, a drunk driver or road rage,” points out Lt. Shaw.

You see someone driving with headlights off at night?

“By all means, flash your lights,” says Lt. Shaw. “By the time the third or fourth person flashes headlights, most reasonable people will realize they left their lights off. Use caution around these drivers, because forgetting to turn on headlights is one of the primary indicators of a drunk driver.” By contrast, Lt. Shaw adds that if someone has their bright lights on, you should not flash your lights. This has been found to have the potential to cause incidents of road rage, and it could cause an accident by blinding the other driver. Just look over to the right edge of the road to minimize the high beams’ impact on your own vision. (If you’re nervous about the other driver, you can press your red Emergency button and an Advisor can stay on the line with you until you reach safety.)

You see someone stranded on the side of the road?

The safest solution for OnStar Members is to push the red Emergency button and be a “Good Samaritan” — OnStar can send help when you report a motorist in distress.  “While I’d love to say we could pull over for everybody and help them out, some people will fake breaking down on the side of the road to lure you in to carjack or rob you,” Lt. Shaw says. “If you don’t have access to OnStar, the best thing you can do is call the police or 911 (if it is safe to do so) and provide whatever information you can — the nearest mile marker and what you observe, such as a potential flat tire.”

You see people engaged in a physical altercation?

“If you are a witness to an altercation, the very first thing you should do is call the police or 911. Do not get involved in the fight,” says Lt. Shaw. “Anyone who gets in the middle can quickly become the victim — often the people fighting will join forces to fight anyone who interferes.” OnStar can help you avoid becoming directly involved. To contact the local police from your vehicle, you can simply push your red Emergency button — you will have a priority connection to an OnStar Advisor who can summon them.

You see a child or pet locked in a vehicle?

If the weather is 72 degrees Fahrenheit or higher, the temperature in the vehicle can rise to 116 degrees within the hour, even with the windows down. “Rely on your best judgment,” advises Lt. Shaw. “If the child is old enough to unbuckle and open the door, have them do it while you are calling local law enforcement. If it looks like a medical emergency or if it’s a hot day, I’d break the window to get to that child.” Either way, press your vehicle’s red Emergency button or call 911 to be connected with the authorities. When a child’s life is at risk, a false alarm is much better than a fatality. In the case of an animal, if there are businesses nearby, notify their managers or security guards and ask them to make an announcement to find the car's owner. Otherwise, Lt. Shaw says law enforcement will respond to help. “If it appears that the animal is in distress, do what you have to do to rescue the animal. If you have to break a window, you have to break a window.”

If you find yourself locked out of your own vehicle, you can use your vehicle’s mobile app to unlock it with your smartphone,*28 so be sure you have the app and that your account is set up if you need it. If you haven’t already, download your vehicle’s mobile app from the App Store℠*57 or Google Play,™*59 open the app and log in with your onstar.com or Chevrolet, Buick, GMC, or Cadillac Owner Center username and password. If you don’t have one yet, select the “Create Account” option within the mobile app to set it up.

You see an animal running loose on a roadway?

“Don’t stop your vehicle to try to chase the animal yourself,” Lt. Shaw advises. “Most of the time you can contact the city or animal control and they’ll work to capture it. If it’s on a freeway, we do occasionally get 911 calls, and we’ll send a trooper to try to get it to safety.”

You see a downed power line?

“Treat all downed power lines as hot,” Lt. Shaw emphasizes. “Don’t run it over, and don’t try to move it.” If you’re not sure what to do, press your red Emergency button and tell the Advisor what you see, or call the local power company or fire department. Power companies advise not coming within 30 feet of a power line, and if the line is touching a tree or other object, do not touch that object. If the line happens to fall on your vehicle, stay inside your vehicle until help arrives.

You see a road obstruction, like a fallen tree or pothole?

“The state’s Department of Transportation is the best way to report obstructions,” says Lt. Shaw. “We ask that people don’t call 911 for road damage or debris unless it is a real hazard for motorists.” In most states, the Department of Transportation will have a website or even an app that makes it easy to report road problems. If you need help being routed around a road obstruction, push your blue OnStar button — an Advisor can offer real-time guidance and stay on the line with you as you navigate around the obstruction.