Rollercoaster Rides Trigger iPhone 14 Crash Alerts

The new crash detection feature on the Apple iPhone 14 is triggering problems in the United States.

The Wall Street Journal reported that Apple’s newest phone has been automatically calling emergency services from the pockets of people riding rollercoasters in the US, mistaking the bumps and jerks of the rides for actual car crashes.

Apple for the first time included crashed detection when it launched the iPhone 14 and its next generation of smartwatches, in early September.

Apple Watch Ultra

Crash detection

Crash detection of course has been found on Android phones for years, and the reports that iPhone 14’s and Apple Watches are triggered by the extreme acceleration and jolts of rollercoasters and calling 911, suggests that Apple has some tweaking to do.

The crash detection feature found in iPhone 14s, as well as newer Apple Watches, includes a feature that detects the signs and vibrations typical of a serious car accident – and calls 911 if the owner does not respond to a prompt and an alarm to cancel.

The feature starts a 20-second countdown while an alarm sound blares.

Since the new model went on sale in September, the Warren County 911 communications centre in Ohio received at least six crash-detection calls from people on rides, the WSJ reported.

All of them were made automatically from Kings Island, an amusement park near Cincinnati that includes the Orion, a 91mph thrill ride that plummets more than 300ft (90 metres).

Other alerts were also triggered by the 12-storey Joker rollercoaster at Six Flags Great America near Chicago, Illinois, the newspaper reported.

The WSJ reported that one automated call, made by the phone of Sara White as she enjoyed a 50mph ride on Mystic Timbers at Kings Island, told emergency services of her coordinates and said:

“The owner of this iPhone was in a severe car crash and is not responding to their phone.” In the background of the automated message, cheers and music can be heard, the WSJ stated.

Fall detection

Crash detection it should be noted is different from the fall detection feature that has been included by Apple since the original Apple Watch SE and Watch Series 4.

For years Apple has touted the safety aspects of the Apple Watch fall detection, and it genuinely has helped save people in the past.

In January 2021 for example a cyclist in Herefordshire had a lucky escape when he was swept off his bike and into the flooded River Wye in Rotherwas.

The man was carried a mile downstream, but managed to grab hold of a branch and used his Apple Watch to dial 999 and speak to fire control at the emergency services.

The fire brigade managed to rescue the cyclist within 20 minutes of the call.

Tom Jowitt

Tom Jowitt is a leading British tech freelancer and long standing contributor to Silicon UK. He is also a bit of a Lord of the Rings nut...

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