The new Crash Detection feature on the iPhone 14 is supposed to call 911 when it senses that you’ve been in a car accident, but it also calls 911 when you’re on a rollercoaster. According to a report from The Wall Street Journal, the feature has sent police to amusement parks more than once when the twists, turns, and hard stops of a thrill ride were mistaken for a real emergency.
Apple added Crash Detection to its new iPhone 14, Watch Series 8, SE, and Ultra last month. The devices are equipped with a gyroscopic sensor and a high-g accelerometer that have been trained on the force of simulated car crashes. If your iPhone’s sensors detect that you’ve been in an accident, it will alert you and call 911 if you don’t turn it off in 20 seconds.
When it calls the police, it will play an audio message that tells them you were in an accident and tells them where you are. (An Apple Watch with Crash Detection can only call the police if you have your iPhone with you or if it’s connected to a mobile network or Wi-Fi.) Also, check Apple’s Shock MacBook Pro Decision
Well, a few Apple devices did exactly that, but at the wrong time. In a tweet, WSJ reporter Joanna Stern gives an example of a 911 call that was made while the owner of an iPhone 14 was on a roller coaster at Cincinnati’s Kings Island amusement park. As the automated message plays, you can hear screams from the roller coaster in the background.
Since the iPhone 14 went on sale, the 911 dispatch center near Kings Island amusement park has received at least six phones calls saying:
“The owner of this iPhone was in a severe car crash…”
Except, the owner was just on a roller coaster.
— Joanna Stern (@JoannaStern) October 9, 2022
Stern did a test of Apple’s Crash Detection in the style of a demolition derby last month and found that it isn’t always accurate. Even though Crash Detection recently helped find and report a fatal crash in Nebraska, it is clear that the feature has some problems.
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Stern says that since the iPhone 14, park rides have caused six emergency calls in Warren County, which is where Kings Island is. She also says that other people have had the same problems at amusement parks all over the country.
Bringing smartphones on rides isn’t usually a good idea, but the chance of making a false 911 call might be even more reason to leave the iPhone 14 (and other devices) at home before getting in that bumper car. If you don’t want to do that, you can put your phone into aeroplane mode or just turn off the feature.