The Crash Detection feature on the iPhone 14 and newer Apple Watches is continuing to cause issues for first responders based in ski resorts and elsewhere.
Crash Detection activates when an iPhone 14 or Apple Watch detects a sudden jolt in motion that suggests some kind of accident has occurred. The owner has 10 seconds to dismiss the alert if the feature has been activated in error or if the accident isn’t serious, thereby preventing a call from being placed. The problem is that if the phone is in a pocket or bag, erroneous activations are unlikely to be noticed, prompting the emergency services to respond to non-incidents. Such actions are a big waste of time and resources, and can divert workers from genuine incidents that require a quick response.
The feature is really designed for vehicle collisions, but the technology behind it has been causing numerous false alarms in other scenarios ever since it was introduced last fall.
Most recently, local emergency services in a resort area in Nagano, Japan, said that it received 134 false calls between December 16 and January 23, which were “mainly” triggered by the iPhone 14’s Crash Detection system as their owners suffered the usual scrapes and bumps on ski runs.
Another skiing area in nearby Gifu reported 135 false alarms from iPhones between January 1 and January 23.
Similar incidents have been reported in the U.S. In the space of a single weekend, for example, dispatchers at a Colorado 911 center fielded 71 automated crash notifications from skiers’ iPhones and Apple Watches, none of which involved an emergency. Similar reports came out of Minnesota earlier this month, with some of the incidents involving snowmobiles.
Last year, soon after the iPhone 14 went on sale, reports emerged of false Crash Detection calls also taking place on roller coaster rides that involved sudden stops.
Apple said last year that the Crash Detection feature is “extremely accurate in detecting severe crashes” and will improve its performance over time. Of course, when it works as it should, it can save lives.
If you’re in a situation where you don’t want to risk your iPhone 14 firing off an unnecessary emergency call, you can temporarily deactivate the feature by turning on Airplane Mode via Settings.
The Crash Detection feature can also be switched off entirely by selecting Settings > Emergency SOS > turn off call after severe crash. On an Apple Watch, take the same steps by starting off in the My Watch tab.