Despite improvements in the November iOS 16 update, iPhone 14’s Car Crash Detection feature keeps calling 911 by mistake when a user is on a roller coaster, skiing, or doing other physical activities that the device misinterprets as an accident. a car.
The iPhone 14 Vehicle Crash Detection feature uses an array of sensors on the device to contact emergency services if it believes the user may have been in a car accident. Since the feature launched with new iPhone and Apple Watch models in September, 911 and emergency dispatchers across the US have noticed an influx of calls from iPhone 14 devices that accidentally triggered Car Crash Detection, even though no car crash occurred.
Amid reports of faulty calls, Apple released iOS 16.1.2 in November, which it said made “crash detection improvements,” without specifying other changes. Despite the update’s improvements, the problem is still an issue faced by law enforcement. As reported this week by a local news outlet Colorado Suncounty 911 dispatch centers across the state saw an increase in 911 calls from skiers after iPhone 14 and newer Apple Watch models misinterpreted skiing accidents as car crashes.
This past weekend, dispatchers at the Summit County 911 Center sent 71 automated downtime notifications from skiers’ iPhones and Apple Watches at the county’s four ski areas. None of them were involved in an emergency.
Dispatch operators in Grand, Eagle, Pitkin, Routt, and Summit counties—home to 12 very busy ski hills—are sending record numbers of robocalls from skiers’ Apple phones and Watches, connecting to emergency response resources. When a 911 call comes in, each call is handled in the order in which it arrives, so an automated call from a skater’s phone might delay response for a 911 caller with a true emergency.
911 dispatchers are not trained to ignore a call, which means even accidental calls caused by the iPhone 14 feature must be dealt with and resources allocated to, said Trina Dummer, interim director of the 911 Center in Summit County. Dummer continued, “These calls involve a huge amount of resources, from dispatchers to deputies to ski marshals. I don’t think we’ve ever seen an actual emergency event.”
Accidental calls strain emergency centers who have to reallocate resources away from real emergencies, especially since 911 calls are received in order and after one another. “We’re completely shifting core resources away from the people who need them and toward an on-phone feature,” Dummer noted. In Pitkin County, the 911 center receives up to 20 such accidental calls caused by the iPhone 14’s vehicle crash detection feature per day, according to the county manager.
The Pitkin County 911 Center receives about 15 to 20 of these automated calls per day from the county’s four ski areas. Dispatchers try to return every call, but often times a call to a skier with their phone in their pocket goes unanswered, said Brett Loeb, Pitkin County 911 center manager.
Loeb usually has one or two operators that take 911 calls and existing emergency calls can be put on hold to receive incoming calls from iPhones. While his team has helped fallen hikers and residents whose watches notify emergency services when they’ve fallen and need help, there haven’t yet been any real emergencies from robocalls coming from the ski slopes.
In one case at the Vail Police Department in Vail, Colorado, iPhone 14’s Car Crash Detection successfully called 911 due to an actual car accident, Mark Wentworth, director of the Vail Public Safety Communications Center, noted, highlighting that the feature has potential to save. spirits.
In Summit County, the iOS 16.1.2 update did little, if nothing, to address the issue, according to the county manager. “But we haven’t seen a change in our numbers. We’re seeing up to 20 a day, and that’s a huge drain on our resources,” County Commander Jaime Fitzsimmons said.
FitzSimons notes that he has shared his concerns with Apple with responses reporting that the company is aware of the issue, however, FitzSimons says more is needed. We’re reaching out to Apple to get them to pay more attention to this, but it looks like we’re trying to turn a battleship into a bathtub.”
Vehicle collision detection is available on all iPhone 14 models, Apple Watch Series 8, Apple Watch Ultra, and Apple Watch SE 2nd generation.
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