iPhone 14’s Car Crash Detection feature continues to accidentally call 911 when a user is skiing, riding a rollercoaster, or engaging in other physical activities that the device misinterprets as a car crash.
Car Crash Detection is available on all iPhone 14 models, as well as the Apple Watch Series 8, Apple Watch Ultra, and second-generation Apple Watch SE.
Since the feature debuted alongside Apple’s iPhone 14 lineup in the fall 911 and emergency dispatchers in the United States have experienced calls from devices that have accidentally misinterpreted some activities as a car crash. The feature uses an array of sensors built-in to the iPhone 14 to trigger a 911 call if the device believes the user has been in a car crash.
The continued calls continue to be received, despite Apple’s efforts to fix the issue. iOS 16.1.2, released in November, contained “Crash Detection optimizations,” although Apple did not specify what the changes were.
As reported this week by The Colorado Sun, 911 dispatch centers in counties across the state have been witnessing an increase in 911 calls from skiers after their iPhone 14 and newer Apple Watch models misread ski falls as car crashes.
Last weekend the dispatchers at the Summit County 911 Center fielded 71 automated crash notifications from skiers’ iPhones and Apple watches at the county’s four ski areas. None of them involved an emergency.
Dispatch operators in Grand, Eagle, Pitkin, Routt and Summit counties — home to 12 very busy ski hills — are fielding record numbers of the automated calls from skiers’ Apple phones and watches, tying up emergency response resources. When a 911 call comes in, each call is handled in the order it arrives, so an automated call from a skier’s phone could delay response to a 911 caller with a real emergency.
Trina Dummer, the interim director of the 911 center in Summit County. “These calls involve a tremendous amount of resources, from dispatchers to deputies to ski patrollers. And I don’t think we’ve ever had an actual emergency event,” Dummer continued.
The accidental calls are putting a strain on emergency centers’ resources. “We are absolutely diverting essential resources away from people who need it toward a feature on a phone,” Dummer noted.
The Pitkin County 911 center is receiving up to 20 of these accidental calls caused by the iPhone 14’s Car Crash Detection feature a day.
The Pitkin County 911 Center gets about 15 to 20 of these automated calls a day from the county’s four ski areas. Dispatchers try to return every call, but oftentimes a call to a skier with their phone deep in their pockets goes unanswered, said Brett Loeb, the director of the Pitkin County 911 Center.
Loeb usually has one or two operators taking 911 calls and existing emergency calls can be put on hold to field incoming calls from iPhones. While his team has helped fallen hikers and residents whose watches have notified emergency services when they have fallen and need help, so far there have not been any real emergencies from the automated calls coming from the ski slopes.
County Sheriff Jaime FitzSimons notes he has shared his concerns about the miscalls with Apple. “We are communicating with Apple to get them to pay more attention to this, but it feels like we are trying to turn a battleship in a bathtub.”