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How iPhone and Apple Watch’s Automatic Car Crash Detection Can Save Lives

Modern technology has revolutionized the way we approach road safety and emergency services, with companies like Apple and Google leading the way with breakthrough tech that protects drivers, pedestrians, and passengers. One such innovation came on the night of Sept 7th, 2022, through an announcement at one of Apple’s Tech Events. The company’s CEO, Tim Cook, declared that their automatic car crash detection feature will be integrated into every new iPhone and Apple Watch device. 

How the Automatic Car Crash Detection Feature Works

The automatic car crash detection feature works through a sophisticated combination of hardware and software components found in newer iPhones and Apple Watches. 

The technology uses a mix of sensors, including:

  • Barometer - detects a change in the air pressure of the car
  • Accelerometer - measures constant (gravity), time-varying (vibrations), and quasi static (tilt) acceleration forces
  • Gyroscope - senses change in orientation of a device

These sensors along with GPS signals, Car Play, and Bluetooth all work together to assess the driver’s situation, detect sudden and forceful movements, and gauge whether an accident just occurred. 

Upon identifying an impact or collision, the device transmits an alert to the individual's iPhone or Apple Watch, presenting the choice to either cancel the alert or request assistance. If there is no response from the user within a 10-second timeframe, the device will autonomously connect with emergency responders and disclose the user's location.

The device can also send a message to the user's designated emergency contacts, informing them of the accident while providing the emergency contact with the user's location.

Benefits of Automatic Car Crash Detection

The iPhone and Apple Watch's automatic car crash detection feature offers numerous benefits to users, including:

  • Fast emergency response
  • Location sharing  
  • Peace of mind 
  • Informed emergency contacts

Enabling Automatic Car Crash Detection on Your Devices

Most new iPhones and Apple Watches already come equipped with crash detection turned on. 

If your device isn't using crash detection and you would like to take advantage of this potentially life-saving feature, follow these steps to enable automatic car crash detection on your iPhone and Apple Watch:

  1. Open the Settings app on your iPhone.
  2. Scroll down and select Emergency SOS.
  3. Toggle on Call with Side Button and Auto Call.
  4. Add your emergency contacts in the Health app by selecting your profile, then Medical ID > Edit > Add Emergency Contact.

For Apple Watch users, make sure that your watch is paired with your iPhone, as the settings will automatically sync between the two devices.

This is an excellent feature for those who have long commutes or do gig work like driving for Uber and Lyft, or for DoorDash.

Embracing The Evolution of Technology with Emergency Services

The crash detection feature found in newer iPhone and Apple Watch devices is a clear example of how technology can be used to improve road safety and save lives. But emergency features like Auto Crash Detection are not the first of their kind and have been around for a while.

Fall Detection and SOS Features

Released in September 2018, Apple Watch's fall detection feature could detect when a user took a hard slip or fall, and similar to the auto crash detection, it alerted the user to call for help. After 10 seconds, If the user did not respond, the watch automatically called emergency services and shared the user's location. 

The SOS feature on the Apple Watch also allows users to quickly contact emergency services with just a few taps

The Future of Crash Detection 

We may very well see the advancement of this technology radically improve over time, as more in-depth studies are done and used in real-world scenarios. Future auto crash detection systems will be able to detect and analyze crash data more efficiently, which will lead to better outcomes and further help first responders react more effectively to the scene of a crash.

Regulatory Challenges and Data Collection 

As these technologies become more accepted and used by the masses, regulators will be more in the spotlight to pass regulations that make the device safe and reliable. 

Data Collection and Privacy Concerns

Since Apple’s crash detection feature does tap into user data, there are some privacy concerns surrounding its storage and use. Apple has stated that any data collected from the app will be encrypted and stored only on the user's device. Apparently, user data will not be shared with third parties unless consent is clearly given by the user. So be sure to read the terms and agreements page, like none of us do.

Enhanced Crash Data Collection

The data collected by the crash detection feature can provide valuable information to researchers and safety organizations about the leading factors surrounding car accidents. This data can be used to better understand car accidents and develop strategies to prevent them. But without clear rules and regulations set into place, it becomes a slippery slope as to what data can be sold or used and which cannot. 

Impact on the Insurance Industry

The crash detection feature could have a significant impact on the insurance industry. With more accurate and detailed data about accidents, insurers can better assess liability or negligence and reduce fraudulent claims by having access to objective crash data. Regulators will have to step in and set boundaries on how insurance companies can access or use this data.

Comparing with Competing Technologies 

Apple's crash detection feature is not the only technology on the market geared towards road safety.  

Google's Crash Detection

Android Crash Detection, Google's answer to Apple's Crash Detection, also offers a very similar feature. For car crash detection to work on your Google device, you'll need to grant location, physical activity, and microphone permissions. Same as Apple Detection, If your Google phone detects a car crash, it can automatically call emergency services on your behalf. The call will utilize Android's Emergency Location Service, which may transmit details about your location and the nature of the incident.  

Tesla's Autopilot System / Full Self-Driving Mode

Although Tesla's Autopilot and FSD modes are made for semi-autonomous and fully autonomous driving, they also include numerous breakthrough safety features, such as:

  • Automatic Emergency Braking: Detects cars or obstacles that the car may impact and applies the brakes accordingly
  • Forward Collision Warning: Warns of impending collisions with slower-moving or stationary cars
  • Side Collision Warning: Warns of potential collisions with obstacles alongside the car
  • Obstacle-Aware Acceleration: Automatically reduces acceleration when an obstacle is detected in front of your car while driving at low speeds
  • Blind Spot Monitoring: Warns when a car or obstacle is detected when changing lanes
  • Lane Departure Avoidance: Applies corrective steering to keep your car in the intended lane
  • Emergency Lane Departure Avoidance: Steers your car back into the driving lane when it detects that your car is departing its lane and there could be a collision

Tesla's Autopilot/FSD mode currently does not have a crash detection feature like Apple's, but it is designed to actively prevent accidents from happening in the first place.

Alert West Coast Trial Lawyers after your Accident

Apple and Google’s crash detection has the potential to be a game-changer for car accidents and emergency alert technologies. But the data harvesting tactics and user consent guidelines could turn a life-saving feature into a potential privacy issue for Apple and Google customers. Will this be a case where the ends justify the means? Regulators, drivers, and passengers may have to agree.

Don't forget to alert West Coast Trial Lawyers, Los Angeles’s top-rated personal injury law firm, if you were involved in a car accident involving a negligent or malicious driver. We’ve recovered over 1.5 billion dollars worth of settlements and successfully represented thousands of clients throughout California. Let us handle the legal headaches and technicalities of your personal injury case so you can focus solely on recovery and rehabilitation. 
Contact us today by calling 888-585-2793 or filling out our online contact form to schedule a free consultation.

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