First responders laud Apple’s Crash Detection feature, despite occasional false alarms

In Lake Pleasant, Arizona, a man was found after an early morning crash with the help of his Apple Watch. The Apple Watch’s Crash Detection feature sent a text to the Yavapai County Sheriff’s Office with the man’s location information and a message saying he may have been in a car crash. Search and rescue teams were then able to find him several miles away from his crashed vehicle and he was taken back to Surprise by family.

In Maury County, Tennessee, emergency services were alerted to a severe crash on New Year’s Day with the help of Apple’s Crash Detection feature. The driver’s iPhone was thrown out of the car during the crash, but was still able to contact emergency services. A Maury County Fire official said that the iPhone notification would have saved the driver’s life if he had been entrapped in the vehicle or unconscious.

Despite the success stories, officials in both areas have noted that the Crash Detection feature can also result in false alarms. In Maury County, Tennessee, iPhone Crash Detection calls turn out to be false alarms about 75% of the time. However, rescue teams have expressed that they’d “rather get false calls than miss a real emergency.”

Since the Crash Detection feature debuted with the iPhone 14 in 2022, Apple has been working to refine the feature’s algorithm via software updates. Apple has been collecting feedback from call centers impacted by Crash Detection false positives and has sent engineers and other representatives to observe affected teams.

The success in locating individuals involved in car crashes with the help of the Apple Watch and iPhone demonstrates the potential of technology to assist in emergency situations. Despite the occasional false alarm, the benefits of these advancements in technology are clear.