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Dancing Bonaroo-goers set off Apple's Crash Detection, cause chaos for 911 team

The emergency team was able to reduce the false calls by reminding attendees to disable the feature.

Published onJune 26, 2023

A user enables Crash Detection on their Apple Watch.
Kaitlyn Cimino / Android Authority
  • There were reportedly five times the number of false 911 calls than average in Coffee County, Tennessee during Bonaroo.
  • The iPhone’s Crash Detection feature is blamed for the sudden increase in false alarms.
  • It appears Bonaroo attendees were dancing hard enough to set off the feature.

When Apple revealed the iPhone 14, it also introduced a new emergency feature for Apple devices called Crash Detection. Since then, there have been a number of incidents involving false alarms due to the feature. The most recent incident appears to have caused some chaos for a county in Tennessee.

This weekend more than 80,000 people attended the annual music festival known as Bonaroo. As this event went on, local emergency responders were spammed by false 911 calls, as reported by WKRN.

According to the Director of the Coffee County 911 Communication Center Scott LeDuc, the emergency team saw almost five times the amount of false calls than average. It appears the culprit behind the false calls was the iPhone’s Crash Detection feature.

Crash Detection is an iPhone feature that sends an SOS to emergency services when it believes you’ve been in a crash. It is usually triggered by rapid movement, which is synonymous with a crash.

Apparently, event-goers were dancing too hard to the live music and set off the feature. Fortunately, the problem didn’t appear to negatively affect the responder’s ability to perform their jobs.

“Our employees really stepped up, as first responders always do really step up in the line of duty and they did,” LeDuc said. “And we didn’t have any situation where we couldn’t help someone because of the amount of calls.”

An alert was sent to everyone in the area, encouraging them to disable Crash Detection. This reportedly reduced the amount of false calls by 40 to 60% according to LeDuc.

While Apple has had plenty of issues like this with its emergency feature, it isn’t alone. Just last week, the UK warned against using Android’s Emergency SOS feature due to a spike in accidental emergency calls. It just goes to show that there may need to be more safeguards when these features are enabled.

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