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How to use Crash Detection on your iPhone or Apple Watch

Apple's Crash DetectionApple's Crash Detection feature

If your iPhone or Apple Watch detects a severe car crash, your device can help connect you to emergency services. It’s a somewhat controversial feature, as there are many incidents of a crash being “detected” when there is no crash.

But if you wish to use the feature, Crash Detection works on these iPhone and Apple Watch models:

  • iPhone 14 and iPhone 14 Pro models with the latest version of iOS
  • Apple Watch Series 8, Apple Watch SE (2nd generation), and Apple Watch Ultra with the latest version of watchO

On supported iPhone and Apple Watch models, Crash Detection is turned on by default. You can also take these steps to make sure that your device is able to share the information that your emergency contacts and emergency responders need.

  • To alert your emergency contacts and share your Medical ID with emergency responders, set up your Medical ID and your emergency contacts in the Health app.
  • To share your location with your emergency contacts, turn on Location Services for Emergency SOS: On your iPhone, tap Settings > Privacy & Security > Location Services > System Services, and make sure Emergency Calls & SOS is turned on.

Your iPhone or Apple Watch can connect you to emergency services after a severe car crash, even if you’re unresponsive.

If you have an iPhone 14 or iPhone 14 Pro, Crash Detection notifications to emergency services may be communicated by the Emergency SOS via satellite system when you’re outside of cellular and Wi-Fi coverage, where Emergency SOS via satellite is available.

Emergency calls use a cellular connection or Wi-Fi Calling with an Internet connection from your Apple Watch or iPhone.

If you can respond

  • If you need to contact emergency services, swipe the Emergency Call slider on the screen of your device. Your device makes the call to emergency services and you can speak to a responder.
  • If the call has been made, but you don’t need emergency services, don’t hang up. Wait until a responder answers, then explain that you don’t need help.

If you can’t respond:

° If you haven’t initiated a call or canceled the alert after 10 seconds, your device begins another 10 second countdown. During this countdown, your device makes loud whoops to get your attention. Your iPhone aggressively vibrates and your Apple Watch makes aggressive taps.

° If you still haven’t responded, your device makes a call to emergency services at the end of the countdown.

° When your device makes this automatic call, it plays a looped audio message to emergency responders and out loud over your device speakers. This message informs emergency services that your Apple device detected a severe car crash and that you’re unresponsive. It also shares your estimated latitude and longitude coordinates with a search radius. 

° The message plays in the primary language of the country that you’re in and repeats at five second intervals. After the first time, it plays at a reduced volume, so that you or someone nearby can talk on the call to the emergency responder. You can also stop the recorded message.

How to turn Crash Detection off

You can turn off alerts and automatic emergency calls after a severe car crash. When you turn off these alerts and calls on one of your paired devices, you automatically turn them off on your other paired devices.

On your iPhone

° Open the Settings app.

° Tap Emergency SOS.

° Turn off Call After Severe Crash.

On your Apple Watch

° On your iPhone, open the Apple Watch app.

° In the My Watch tab, tap Emergency SOS.

° Turn off Call After Severe Crash.

Dennis Sellers
the authorDennis Sellers
Dennis Sellers is the editor/publisher of Apple World Today. He’s been an “Apple journalist” since 1995 (starting with the first big Apple news site, MacCentral). He loves to read, run, play sports, and watch movies.