Sort of Facebook for Motorists

The idea of a Facebook community on the road sort of social networking for motorists is not so far-fetched. At least not to Gary Wallace, a vice-president at Dallas-based auto-telematics provider ATX Group. In BMWs and numerous other vehicles, ATX offers services similar to General Motors' OnStar, which aids subscribers in various ways, from guiding lost motorists to sending emergency help if OnStar

The idea of a Facebook community on the road — sort of social networking for motorists — is not so far-fetched.

At least not to Gary Wallace, a vice-president at Dallas-based auto-telematics provider ATX Group.

In BMWs and numerous other vehicles, ATX offers services similar to General Motors' OnStar, which aids subscribers in various ways, from guiding lost motorists to sending emergency help if OnStar signals detect an airbag deployment.

Wallace cites how the mobile social networking could come into play.

During the California wildfire season last year, BMW owners called the ATX concierge service to report fires, dense smoke and dead animals on the road.

OnStar drivers in Louisiana acted likewise when Hurricane Katrina hit. They reported road conditions, he says.

For drivers calling in, it was natural to want to help others in a time of crisis. But ATX and OnStar are not set up to relay such warnings to all subscribers.

Today, says Wallace, ATX only can send out messages one by one. But technicians are working on being able to broadcast messages to cars in a certain geographic area.

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