The Crash Detection feature on the iPhone 14 and newer Apple Watches continues to cause problems for first responders at ski resorts and elsewhere.
Crash detection kicks in when an iPhone 14 or Apple Watch detects a sudden jerk in motion that suggests some kind of crash has occurred. The owner has 10 seconds to dismiss the alarm if the feature was activated in error or if the accident is not serious, preventing a call from being made. The problem is that when the phone is in a pocket or bag, failed activations are unlikely to be noticed, prompting emergency services to respond to non-incidents. Such actions are a huge waste of time and resources and can distract employees from real incidents that require a quick response.
The feature is actually designed for vehicle collisions, but the technology behind it has caused numerous false alarms in other scenarios since it was introduced last fall.
Most recently, local emergency services at a resort area in Nagano, Japan said it received 134 false calls between December 16th and January 23rd, which were “mainly” triggered by the iPhone 14’s crash detection system, as their owners suffered the usual scrapes and bumps found on ski slopes.
Another ski resort in nearby Gifu reported 135 false alerts from iPhones between January 1 and 23.
Similar incidents were reported by dispatchers in the US, for example, within a single weekend at a Colorado 911 Center 71 automated accident reports from iPhones and Apple Watches performed by skiers, none of which involved an emergency. Similar reports came from Minnesota Earlier this month, with some of the snowmobile incidents.
Last year, shortly after the iPhone 14 went on sale, reports surfaced of false crash detection calls also occurring during roller coaster rides with sudden stops.
Apple said last year that its Crash Detection feature is “extremely accurate at detecting serious crashes” and will improve its performance over time. Of course, if it works the way it’s supposed to, it can save lives.
If you don’t want to risk your iPhone 14 making an unnecessary emergency call, you can temporarily disable the feature by turning on Airplane mode through Settings.
The accident detection feature can also be turned off completely by selecting Settings > Emergency SOS > Turn off call after major accident. On an Apple Watch, follow the same steps, starting from the My Watch tab.
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