The iPhone 14’s new Crash Detection feature, which is supposed to alert authorities when it detects you’ve been in a car accident, has an unexpected side effect: it calls 911 on roller coasters. According to an report of The Wall Street JournalThe feature has sent law enforcement officers to amusement parks several times after mistaking the twists, turns, and hard braking of a thrilling ride for a real emergency.
Apple last month introduced Crash Detection with its new iPhone 14, Watch Series 8, SE and Ultra, equipping the devices with a gyroscopic sensor and high-g accelerometer trained on the impact experienced with simulated car accidents. If the sensors detect that you’ve been in an accident, your iPhone will display an alert and call emergency services if you don’t decline within 20 seconds.
When it calls the police, it plays an audio message alerting authorities that you’ve been in an accident, and also relays your location. (An Apple Watch with crash detection can only alert authorities if you have your iPhone with you, or if it’s connected to a cellular network or Wi-Fi.)
Well, that’s exactly what different users’ Apple devices did, but at the wrong time. In a tweet, WSJ reporter Joanna Stern shares an example of one of the 911 calls made while the owner of an iPhone 14 was tethered to a roller coaster at Kings Island amusement park in Cincinnati. As the automated message plays, you’ll hear muffled screams in the background as the roller coaster goes on.
Stern says Warren County, where Kings Island is located, has received six emergency calls triggered by park rides since the release of the iPhone 14. She also points out that other users have experienced similar issues at theme parks across the country.
Taking smartphones on rides isn’t exactly a smart idea to start with, but the risk of fake 911 calls could be all the more reason to leave the iPhone 14 (and other devices) behind before getting into that bumper car. Otherwise you can choose to put your phone in airplane mode or just turn off the feature completely.
Update October 9, 2:17 PM ET: Updated to recognize some workarounds that can prevent Crash Detection from going on a roller coaster ride.