Volkswagen has launched an iPhone app that provides assistance to drivers who get into an accident.

The app, which is available to VW owners free of charge, helps with the on-site filing of an online claim and also offers a range of additional services. These include locating a repair shop, finding the parked vehicle again, and receiving weather information.

When looking for a repair shop, the app shows all repairers with address, phone number and distance to the accident site. The app can connect the iPhone user directly to the repair shop and show him how to get there using Google maps.

Among other functions, the app can turn the iPhone into a flashlight in a night-time emergency.

The app also offers step-by-step advice on how to proceed in the event of an accident.

Drivers with VW insurance are able to describe the accident, record all relevant data and send everything directly to the insurer using their iPhone.

VW's iPhone app was developed in cooperation with Hamburg-based lb-lab, a German software developer. It runs on all iPhones using Apple's operating system iOS4.0 and later versions.

Comments on the Web site of Apple's iTunes store generally praised the app for its usefulness in often difficult situations. But one commentator noted: "Typically VW: boring design but top functionality."