iPhone 14 does not distinguish roller coasters from car accidents

One of the star features of the iPhone 14 and 14 Pro is giving the emergency services some headaches. As stated The Wall Street Journalthe detection of accidents that include the new models —and also the new Apple Watch— activates unexpectedly on roller coastersand have already caused the occasional unnecessary visit by 911 to the amusement park.

The accident detection feature, available on the entire iPhone 14 line and on the Apple Watch Series 8, SE from 2022 and Apple Watch Ultra, makes use of the different internal components of the device, such as the accelerometer, the gyroscope, the integrated barometer and microphone, to detect a shock and activate a mode that allows you to automatically call emergencies.

The feature, of course, is intended for car accidents, but the internal components don't seem to know how to distinguish between a collision with sudden changes in speed, braking and shaking that can be perceived in roller coasters.

One iPhone 14 Pro user, for example, stowed her device in a fanny pack and went on a Kings Island ride. As she went downstairs, she realized that her voice mail was full of 911 calls asking if she was okay. The detection was activated during the ride on the attraction. Keeping it in the fanny pack, he couldn't manually confirm that nothing was wrong, so the iPhone automatically called 911.

The accident detection of the iPhone 14 Pro has been activated on many occasions during roller coaster rides

iPhone 14 accident detection

Emergency services instead received a default rewrite from the iPhone that read as follows. "The owner of this iPhone has been in a car accident and is not answering his phone", followed by the exact location. After being unable to reach her by phone, a 911 team headed to the amusement park and realized that there was, in fact, no emergency. The owner of the iPhone also called the emergency room to confirm that she was fine.

The case of the user of the iPhone 14 Pro, however, is just one of several that have occurred in recent weeks in the different amusement parks in the United States. In fact, WSJ can corroborate "six iPhone accident detection calls from people on Kings Island rides". Also similar alerts in The Joker roller coaster at Six Flags Great America, in Chicago.

It's unclear whether Apple could disable these kinds of detections on roller coasters without affecting an actual collision. Users, however, can disable this feature completely in device settings. Or, alternatively, put the iPhone in airplane mode when riding a roller coaster.

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