Police were called to a fatal car crash in Nebraska after a new iPhone feature detected the impact and called 911. Emergency responders said the crash, which claimed the lives of six people, was the “worst crash” they’d seen in the area in recent memory.
Apple released its new iPhone 14 and 14 Pro phones last month, and one of their marquee features was “crash detection”. The tool uses new sensors in the phone as well as software algorithms to detect when the owner of a device appears to have undergone the impact of a car crash.
If the iPhone does detect such a crash, it will show an alert and give users the option to call emergency services. If they do not respond, it will automatically call them.
Police in Lincoln, Nebraska, said in a Facebook post over the weekend that they had been called to a crash by that automated system over the weekend. When officers arrived, they said it was the “worst crash in Lincoln in recent memory.”
“At 2:16 AM today, October 2, Lincoln Police Officers responded to a 911 call from an iPhone recording indicating the owner of the phone was in a severe crash and was not responding to their phone. When officers arrived, they found the car, believed to be a black Honda Accord, had been eastbound near the intersection,” the post explained, noting an early example of the feature being used to call emergency services to a crash.
Five people, the 26-year-old man driving and four male passengers aged 21, 22, 22 and 23, were all declared dead on the scene. A 24-year-old woman was taken to the hospital in lifethreatening condition, but Lincoln Police Officers confirmed in their post that she “succumbed to the injuries she sustained in the crash” on Sunday.
The crash detection feature is built into both the new iPhone and Apple Watch. Apple says that it is “designed to detect severe car crashes – such as front-impact, side-impact and rear-end collisions and rollovers – involving saloons, minivans, 4X4s, pickup trucks and other passenger cars”.
If such a crash is detected, the phone shows an alert noting that they appear to have been in a crash. It tells them that it will “trigger Emergency SOS” if they don’t respond.
That happens after a 20 second delay. It will then call emergency services and play a looped audio message, telling the responder that the phone has detected a severe crash and that its owner is unresponsive, as well as sending its approximate location.