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iPhones at Bonnaroo kept mistaking dancing for car crashes and calling 911

Published Jun 26th, 2023 2:41PM EDT
iPhone 14 crash detection feature in action. iOS 16.1.2
Image: Apple

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The infamous iPhone Crash Detection feature spurred false 911 calls during the Bonnaroo Music Festival this weekend in Manchester, Tennessee. According to Nashville ABC affiliate WKRN, Coffee County registered five times the amount of 911 calls than average due to people dancing at the music festival.

The Director of Coffee County 911 Communication Center, Scott LeDuc, encouraged people in the area to deactivate the Crash Detection feature of the iPhone 14 models to prevent false 911 calls from happening. “It reduced the amount of calls that we were getting. It probably reduced it 40 to 60 percent,” he said.

Luckily enough, the director stated the false calls didn’t impact first responders’ ability to respond to real emergencies. “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.”

While Apple offered to travel to Coffe County to help with the situation, LeDuc said he was able to diagnose the issue over the phone.

Crash Detection is an exclusive feature of the iPhone 14 models, Apple Watch Series 8, Apple Watch SE 2, and Apple Watch Ultra. Apple says a “new dual-core accelerometer capable of detecting G-force measurements of up to 256Gs and a new high dynamic range gyroscope” lets its latest iPhone models detect a severe car crash and automatically dial emergency services when a user is unconscious or unable to reach their iPhone. 

Although the company uses “advanced Apple-designed motion algorithms trained with over a million hours of real-world driving and crash record data to provide even better accuracy,” BGR has reported several stories of iPhone and Apple Watch models spurring false Crash Detection signals.

The company has improved the algorithm with iOS 16.1.2 and iOS 16.3.1, but it seems Apple still faces issues in some unrelated regular use cases of the iPhone. BGR contacted the company and asked for a comment on the false triggers.

José Adorno Tech News Reporter

José is a Tech News Reporter at BGR. He has previously covered Apple and iPhone news for 9to5Mac, and was a producer and web editor for Latin America broadcaster TV Globo. He is based out of Brazil.