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Apple Watch saves distracted driver's life with Crash Detection

Car crash in Racine County, Wisconsin. (Source: Kansasville Fire and Rescue)

Racine County emergency services say a driver would not have a survived a car accident had it not been for her Apple Watch.

The crash detection feature in the Apple Watch and iPhone 14 has now often alerted emergency services to car crashes, and fortunately sometimes to saving lives as a result. It's still common enough, though, and responders in Racine County, Wisconsin report that they have had their first such Apple Watch alert.

"This was a first for us — being dispatched to an automobile crash, as a result of an Apple Watch," Ronald Molnar, Kansasville Fire and Rescue Chief, told reporters from Fox 6 Milwaukee. "I'll summarize it like this: If it wasn't for that Apple Watch. I doubt that she [the driver] would have survived."

The incident occurred around 4am on Thursday, August 31, 2023, and the driver's Apple Watch sent a location of County Highway N (Downy Drive) and County Highway A (Plank Road) in the Town of Dover.

"We found the vehicle on its roof, approximately 100 feet off the paved roadway," said Molnar.

Molnar said that because of where the car was, the "vehicle would have likely gone undetected for several hours." It was sufficiently far away from the road that it would have been nearly impossible for drivers passing by to have seen the wreck.

The driver, a 31-year-old woman from Waterford, was unconscious. She was then airlifted to Froedtert Hospital with what are described as life-threatening injuries.

No other vehicles were involved in the incident. The accident is being investigated by the Racine County Major Crash Assistance Team and deputies say they believe the crash was caused by distracted driving.

Crash Detection in the Apple Watch and iPhone 14 uses the multiple sensors in the devices — such as gyroscopes and accelerometers — to detect a likely crash. As shown in an Apple video, the Watch or iPhone will then prompt the driver and should they fail to react, will contact the authorities.