Does OnStar really know where you are?

onstaryellowstoneOK, why should I be obsessed this morning with something this silly? There’s a full-page ad running on the back of the Wall Street Journal this morning for OnStar. It has a pretty picture of a road winding its way through nice green, leafed-out trees. It says “Can you find the crashed Chevy in this ad?” There’s no car in the ad, but the copy continues “We can. (It’s an ’09 Malibu, in the ravine past the sign. Lat: 44.360. Long: -110.300. And yes, help is on the way.)

OK, cute idea. But then I got to thinkin’.¬† Where is that latitude/longitude? Seems awfully far north. And I remember that the 100th meridian is the thumbnail boundary between eastern and western North America, so this would be in the northern part of the west. What are these deciduous trees doing there?

Luckily Google Maps makes it easy to find the answer without pulling out my trusty atlas. It’s in freakin’ Yellowstone National Park! So the trees are all wrong, for sure. But that’s the least of the problem. This location is in the middle of the peninsula/promontory between the Yellowstone Lake’s two arms. There are no roads, no cars there – you can’t even take a motorboat down there. I think¬† it might even be an official Wilderness Area, if such a thing still exists any more.

So, if I run off a ravine in what looks like Maryland or Pennsylvania, does that mean OnStar will send someone to the middle of a wilderness in Wyoming? It is amazing that they did not check where the latitude and longitude they made up actually was. But I did?

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