Modern vehicles are full of sensors, computer processors, microchips, and more — when something malfunctions, it can be challenging to pinpoint the root of the problem without help from an expert.
As more electronic components are added to vehicles, screwdrivers and wrenches no longer suffice. In these situations, vehicle diagnostic tools, also known as automotive scanners, can help troubleshoot faults and reprogram a vehicle’s operating system, making it easier to keep drivers, riders, and roads safe.
However, many vehicle diagnostic tools lack a key function — the ability to send data to 9-1-1 which allows for speedy dispatch during an emergency. Let’s explore why this matters and how these tools can become critical data sources for public safety.
What are Vehicle Diagnostic Tools?
Imagine your car’s “check engine” light starting to flash. You might panic and struggle to find what could have possibly gone wrong. With a vehicle diagnostic tool, you will be able to detect the issue and determine whether it requires professional help. From code readers and OBD-II (on-board diagnostics) scanners to circuit and car battery testers, diagnostic tools allow people to self-examine their vehicles without paying a visit to the mechanic.
The types of diagnostic equipment vary, but common scanners can access the codes stored in a vehicle’s memory system and troubleshoot internal compartments, such as the airbag, engine, suspension, braking system, etc. By interpreting the fault codes generated, vehicle owners can easily identify the cause of an issue and make necessary repairs before the problem escalates.
How do Vehicle Diagnostic Tools work?
Some diagnostic tools plug directly into the vehicle’s dashboard and send notifications to the owner’s smartphone upon detecting an issue. For example, the BlueDriver Pro Scan Tool and the PLX Kiwi 4 are both highly-rated tools topping automotive scanner lists. They each have an exclusive app available on Android and iOS devices that receives diagnostic data, including the summary and severity of the problem, as well as instructions on how to rectify it.
Sharing Vehicle Data with 9-1-1
Though diagnostic tools can be used as accident prevention equipment, what most tools lack today is the ability to send data to 9-1-1 during an emergency. If diagnostic tools have the capability to transmit information to smartphones, they should also be able to share life-saving data with 9-1-1. A damaged ignition coil or low levels of transmission fluid may be minor problems that can be solved by your local mechanic, but what if a vehicle malfunction leads to an accident where public safety needs to get involved?
In an emergency, historic diagnostic data can give first responders valuable clues as to what might have gone wrong. Being able to access the recent status of a vehicle is crucial to comprehending the reason behind an accident. What’s more important, is giving first responders this contextual information before they arrive on scene. Perhaps the diagnostic tool recorded that the vehicle experienced a catalytic converter failure which caused dangerous exhaust fumes to be emitted. Knowing this and allowing first responders to access other critical data sooner rather than later is essential to not only speeding up dispatch, but also responding with the correct resources.
Healthy vehicles undoubtedly improve road safety, lead to fewer accidents, and give both drivers and riders peace of mind. However, in addition to averting accidents, vehicle diagnostic tools should also act as a data source that public safety can leverage in the case of an emergency. By enabling data to be delivered from diagnostic tools such as OBD-II scanners to 9-1-1, first responders will have a better grasp of the cause behind accidents and provide faster and more accurate data-driven response.