(NewsNation) — The latest iPhone and Apple Watch devices include updated sensors that can detect sudden changes in motion to automatically contact emergency services if they believe the user was involved in a car crash.
The technology can be lifesaving. For example, an iPhone 14 altered authorities to a crash in Nebraska last week, immediately calling for help.
But the feature isn’t perfect. To the phone or smart watch, the rapid speed and deceleration of a car crash can seem no different than the jolting, velocity and sudden stop of a roller coaster. As first reported by the Wall Street Journal, roller coasters have triggered several recent false alarms.
Last month in Ohio, law enforcement was called to the Kings Island amusement park six times for accidents that didn’t exist. A roller coaster at the park, Mystic Timbers, sends riders flying at 53 miles per hour and more than 100 feet in the air, before grinding to a halt at the end of the ride.
That triggered some riders’ crash detection features. When that happens, an iPhone will display an alert for 10 seconds before starting a 10-second countdown and alarm sound. If the user doesn’t shut off the alarm, the phone will automatically dial 911.
911 dispatch operators will hear a robotic voice when they answer the call. The automatic message says, “The owner of this iPhone was in a severe car crash and is not responding to their phone.” The feature also provides the dispatcher with the phone’s location and lets them hear audio from the phone’s microphone. (In the case of the roller coaster false alarms, the 911 call audio picked up the screams of people on the rides.)
On top of calling 911, your Apple device will also alert your emergency contacts with a text message.
The same crash detection feature has also been triggered by the Joker ride at Six Flags Great America outside Chicago, the Wall Street Journal reports.
Nexstar reached out to Apple, but didn’t hear back. A company spokesperson told the Journal their products’ crash detection technology is “extremely accurate in detecting severe crashes,” but they will continue to improve it over time.
If you want to ride a roller coaster without the added adrenaline of law enforcement showing up to make sure you are OK, you can put your phone on airplane mode, or turn it off before the ride. You can also disable the feature entirely in your phone’s settings.