People are reportedly getting off roller coasters and discovering that their new iPhone 14 called 911 for them. Turns out the handsets mistook thrilling rides for a car wreck and thought their users needed emergency help. It’s an unintended result of Crash Detection, a feature added to Apple’s latest handsets.
Fortunately, there are a couple of options to use as a workaround until Apple has a better solution.
iPhone 14 Crash Detection has accidents
If you’re in a severe car accident, Crash Detection in your iPhone 14 can tell and it can contact emergency services if you’re unconscious. (Apple Watch Series 8, Apple Watch Ultra and the latest Apple Watch SE also come with hardware that supports Crash Detection.)
The feature is potentially life-saving — except it’s apparently prone to overreacting. The Wall Street Journal‘s Joanna Stern reports that 911 dispatch near Kings Island amusement park in Mason, Ohio, received half a dozen automated emergency calls from new iPhones.
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
Crash Detection feeds data from the handset’s accelerometer, gyroscope, GPS and microphone into an algorithm of Apple’s own creation to determine if the iPhone 14’s owner has been in a wreck. It seems the deliberately violent movements of a roller coaster, perhaps along with the screams of riders, trick the software into thinking something terrible is happening.
Pair of possible workarounds
If you’re headed for an amusement park and plan to ride a coaster or two, you don’t have to worry about accidentally calling 911.
Coaster101 learned about a workaround from Dollywood, an amusement park in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee. That park put up signs in front of its coasters suggesting riders turn off their cellphones or put them in Airplane Mode to prevent accidentally calling emergency services.
Another option is to turn off Crash Detection. Do this by going to Settings > Emergency SOS and toggling off Call After Severe Crash. If you do so while at an amusement park, set a reminder to turn it back on later. You’re disabling a safety feature of the iPhone 14.