Apple recently introduced the ‘Crash Detection’ feature in the iPhone 14 series, as well as the new Apple Watch Series 8, Apple Watch SE (2nd generation), and Apple Watch Ultra. This feature is designed to detect severe car crashes and help users connect to emergency services.
According to Apple, when the device detects a severe car crash, the Crash Detection feature will display an alert and automatically initiate an emergency phone call after 20 seconds unless it is manually canceled.
If the user is unresponsive, it will play an audio message for emergency services, which informs them about the car accident and provides latitudinal and longitudinal coordinates with an approximate search radius.
Apparently, in some cases, this feature is overdoing it by erroneously calling 911 when customers are riding rollercoasters with an iPhone 14 or a new Apple Watch.
Customers visiting the Kings Island and Dollywood amusement parks have been reporting that the ‘Crash Detection’ feature has been mistaking rollercoaster rides for car accidents or other collisions, which in turn is triggering automated 911 emergency calls to authorities.
Six separate emergency calls were made from Kings Island Amusement Park where the Crash Detection feature was falsely triggered by its rollercoaster rides, reports The Wall Street Journal and theme park news website Coaster101.
Dollywood also experienced similar incidents and now has posted warning signs at two of its most high-octane rides requesting customers to avoid bringing cell phones and other devices on rides or turn the power down.
WSJ reporter Joanna Stern tweeted the recording of one of the 911 calls while an iPhone 14 owner was fastened to a rollercoaster at Kings Island amusement park in Cincinnati. As the automated message plays, one can hear muffled screams in the background, as the ride continues.
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.
? by me: https://t.co/hp1fHZBIf6 pic.twitter.com/i0lZPoWzGz
— Joanna Stern (@JoannaStern) October 9, 2022
What Is Triggering 911 Calls?
It appears that things like sudden braking, twists and turns, sudden changes in motion, pressure changes, GPS readings, and loud noises in the roller coaster rides are tricking the algorithm in Apple’s Crash Detection feature to view it as an accident and in turn alerting the emergency services.
Commenting on the Crash Detection feature, an Apple spokesman told Joanna that it is “extremely accurate in detecting severe crashes’ and that the company optimized it for getting users help while minimizing false positives.”
The feature, according to the spokesman, was developed by feeding over a million hours of crash data, real-world driving, and crash-test labs.
When questioned if the feature is getting tricked on rollercoaster rides, he added that the technology provides peace of mind, and Apple will continue to improve it over time.
How To Prevent Triggering The Crash Detection Roller Coaster False Alarm
Since the Crash Detection feature is turned on by default, the best way to deactivate the feature temporarily on iPhone 14 while on rollercoaster rides is to turn on the ‘Airplane mode.’ Alternatively, iPhone 14 users can permanently turn off the feature by going to Settings > Tap Emergency SOS, then Turn off Call After Severe Crash.
Similarly, Apple Watch users can open the Apple Watch app on their iPhones. In the My Watch tab, tap Emergency SOS, then Turn off Call After Severe Crash.