Local Sheriff’s Office reports skiers, sledders triggering 911 calls with abrupt stops

While technology can be a good thing, it can also cause issues.

The new iPhone 14 has built-in-crash-detection, which has caused the phone to believe skiers going down a hill at a high rate of speed have been in a severe car accident, triggering a call to 911.

The Walworth County Sheriff’s Office has received several of these calls, the department said in a news release issued this week.

The sheriff’s office has issued information to try to prevent these false 911 calls, alerting the public to ways to turn off the notification system.

According to the release: The iPhone 14 (and Apple Watch Series 8, SE, and Ultra) has a built-in crash-detection feature that automatically calls 911 if you suddenly stop moving.

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The technology is intended to detect severe car crashes. However, the Walworth County 911 Dispatch Center has received several crash-detection calls related to sudden stops or wipe-outs while skiing or sledding at Alpine Valley in East Troy and Grand Geneva, just outside Lake Geneva.

Here’s how it works: The new feature has sensors trained on the impact experienced with simulated car crashes. If the sensors think you’ve been in an accident, your iPhone will vibrate, prompt you with an audible alert, and then call 911 if you don’t dismiss it within 20 seconds. When it calls 911, it plays an audio message that alerts authorities you’ve been in a crash along with your location.

The release advises that if your iPhone is equipped with this crash-detection feature, turn your phone on airplane mode when engaging in high-velocity activities such as skiing, sledding, or operating an ATV/UTV at a high rate of speed.

Alternatively, the crash-detection feature can also be disabled on your iPhone by following these steps:

  • Open the Settings app.
  • Tap Emergency SOS.
  • Turn off Call After Severe Crash.

But if the feature is not turned off and an emergency notification is made, the Walworth County Sheriff’s Office said, “Unless we can verify through human contact that there is not a problem, we will assume there is an emergency situation and dispatch the appropriate resources , including notifying Ski Patrol.”


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