iPhone Crash Detection set off by dancing at a music festival

Bonnaroo Music Festival phones in the crowd
(Image credit: Douglas Mason/Getty Images)

It’s easy to get lost in the moment during an epic headline set at a music festival. But if you’re an iPhone 14 user you might want to disable the phone’s Crash Detection feature before enthusiastically dancing to your favorite artist. That's because the device may mistake your best moves for a car crash — yes, really. 

Earlier this month more than 80,000 people descended on Coffee County, Tennesse for the annual Bonnaroo Music and Arts Festival. And over the course of the four-day event, the local authorities experienced five times more false 911 calls than usual reports WKRN (as relayed by Apple Insider)

While an increase in calls should be expected during a major event like Bonnaroo, the influx of unnecessary calls was eventually linked to the latest iPhone’s Crash Detection feature. To counter this, an alert was sent to devices in the area requesting that users temporarily switch Crash Detection off. This helped to reduce the number of false calls, according to Scott LeDuc, Director of the Coffee County 911 Communication Center.

Apple Insider also reports that Apple itself offered to visit the county in order to offer assistance, but that a solution to the problem was ultimately found over the phone after it was deduced the feature was being triggered by festival goers dancing a little too vigorously. Foo Fighters, Kendrick Lamar and Odesza headlined the festival, so the high levels of enthusiastic dancing are pretty understandable.    

LeDuc was also quick to confirm that no 911 calls were dismissed as false without the callers being located in order to ensure that emergency services were not required on the scene: "Our employees really stepped up, as first responders always do really step up in the line of duty and they did. And we didn't have any situation where we couldn't help someone because of the amount of calls,“ said LeDuc.

A graphic showing Crash Detection on iOS 16 and WatchOS 9.

(Image credit: Apple)

The iPhone Crash Detection feature (also present on the latest Apple Watch 8 as well), provides an on-screen alert when it believes that a crash has occurred. Users can then contact emergency services with a single button press, or dismiss the alert altogether. However, if the user doesn’t respond within 20 seconds, the device will automatically contact emergency services and share location information. This is likely how such a large number of false positives happened as attendees were presumably unaware the Crash Detection feature had been triggered. 

This is far from the first time that the iPhone’s Crash Detection feature has been fooled. False alerts have previously occurred because of roller coasters, snowmobiles and skiing. So, if you’re heading to a music festival or concert this summer you might want to check our guide on how to enable and disable Crash Detection first, and if your device does trigger a false alert, Apple’s advice is to stay on the line and explain to the responder that it was a mistake rather than immediately hang up. 

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Rory Mellon
Entertainment Editor (UK)

Rory is an Entertainment Editor at Tom’s Guide based in the UK. He covers a wide range of topics but with a particular focus on gaming and streaming. When he’s not reviewing the latest games, searching for hidden gems on Netflix, or writing hot takes on new gaming hardware, TV shows and movies, he can be found attending music festivals and getting far too emotionally invested in his favorite football team.