Despite advances in technology and the development of new automotive security devices, the Federal Bureau of Investigation reports that auto theft occurs every 26.4 seconds in the United States. To put that figure in perspective, more than 1 million vehicles were stolen in 2006 alone.Most likely, vehicle owners experience great distress with the loss of such an important possession. But according to a National Insurance Crime Bureau survey conducted in 2007, consumers are often unaware of the extent of the cost involved with a stolen vehicle. For starters, there’s the insurance deductible and the further expense of replacing uninsured or underinsured vehicles. Additional costs can also come in the form of insurance premium increases, the cost of time spent dealing with police, vehicle rental costs and the cost of time off from work.While it’s imperative that car owners observe security measures to discourage theft, vehicle manufacturers possess a visionary understanding of automotive safety and security that reaches far beyond keyless entry and theft-deterrent systems. The concept of seamless blending of multiple products into one Integrated Safety System may further increase automotive security and a car owner’s peace of mind.Perhaps one of the most reliable theft protection systems available, Vehicle Immobilization Systems use an electronic code transmitted from a transponder (tag) located in the vehicle’s ignition key to allow or disallow the engine management system to start the vehicle. To start a vehicle equipped with such a system, the driver places the tag near the ignition lock. Stored within the tag is a unique security code. The security code signal is sent via a transponder. When the correct code is received, the vehicle is allowed to start up.In addition, the system can also allow personalized settings by an individual driver for memory seats, mirrors and keyless vehicle features.Unlike Remote Keyless Entry (RKE) systems which operate with an ultra-high-frequency (UHF) carrier, immobilization systems operate at low frequency (125kHz). In most designs, the transponder is located within the head of the ignition key. However, vehicle manufacturers might also locate the tag in a key fob or card.Another opportunity to increase automobile security and convenience may be the elimination of keys. Since the inception of the automobile, drivers have fumbled around in pockets and purses, trying to locate their keys – a potentially dangerous task in a dark parking lot. With RKE systems technology, the vehicle recognizes a driver’s fob and unlocks the door. The system also allows drivers to start and drive cars without inserting a key. For additional security, proprietary communication algorithms help ensure that the authentication codes contained in the fob will not be intercepted.One keyless vehicle system uses a start/stop button enabled with a fob. Another uses a fingerprint scanner that allows only people whose fingerprints are stored in the system to start the vehicle. Systems also offer seat and steering column position and radio station features. A passive entry back-up provides for low-battery conditions.Another choice for automobile buyers, RKE systems may assist in reducing car theft. Among the vehicle features that can be controlled from a distance are central door locking/unlocking, a panic alarm, an anti-theft warning system, a courtesy light and seat/mirror adjustment. Additional conveniences include integration of keyless actuation and tire pressure monitor and a variety of button configurations for customization.Drivers not only have to be concerned with theft of a vehicle but also theft of its content and components, such as wheels, radios, and personal possessions. Technology for an Ultrasonic Interior Protection system triggers an alarm when movement in the vehicle’s interior is detected. Any changes in inclination (tilting) also trigger a warning. The microprocessor with digital signal processing requires low power consumption and is integrated into one control unit – making it an attractive safety feature for manufacturers and consumers.Products and new automotive design features can help consumers protect their vehicles from theft and improve safety. From simple components to fully integrated systems, safety technology continues to be explored and innovated.