Apple Watch Car Crash Detection Makes It a Life-Saving Machine

Everyone should have one

  • The latest Apple Watches can detect when someone has been involved in a car crash and alert emergency services if the wearer is unresponsive.
  • Apple Watch has a history of saving lives thanks to a suite of health and safety sensors and features.
  • Apple’s new feature has the potential to save even more lives than ever before.
Crash Detection feature on Apple Watch


Apple recently announced that its new Apple Watches can detect when someone is involved in a car crash, giving the wearable another tool in its lifesaving arsenal.

The new car crash detection feature is available on all of Apple's latest smartwatches, as well as its newest iPhones. But by adding the feature to the already capable Apple Watch, Apple has given it yet another way to help save the life of the person wearing it and those who happen to be in the vehicle at the same time.

"This is the sort of innovation that will save lives," proclaimed Joshua Schwadron, founder of personal injury service Mighty, said via Twitter, adding that Apple is using one million hours of driving and car crash data to understand when a severe crash took place.

Crash Detected

Apple announced the new crash detection feature during a September 7 event that saw a raft of new hardware. The iPhone 14 lineup was the main attraction, but Apple also announced a refreshed Apple Watch SE, Apple Watch Series 8, and all-new Apple Watch Ultra. 

The benchmark has always been, 'if you forgot your Apple Watch, would you go back home for it?'

All of those devices support the new crash detection technology, with Apple's press release noting that "an advanced sensor-fusion algorithm that leverages a new, more powerful gyroscope, and accelerometer" makes the feature possible. Apple uses that data to compare what the Apple Watch experienced with "simulated real-world accident" information to decide if an accident occurred.

Jargon aside, the feature is an expansion of the fall detection offering that has been saving lives for years—take the time to set it up now if you haven't already. When a crash is detected, the Apple Watch can also call emergency services and provide approximate location data. The potential to save lives is real. Importantly, crash detection is enabled by default on all compatible Apple Watches and iPhones, although it can be disabled if people prefer.

Another String in the Bow

Since its introduction in 2015, Apple has worked hard to find a place for the Apple Watch on as many wrists as possible. Recent years have seen Apple focus more on health and fitness, with new life-saving features like fall detection and crash detection added along the way. Apple Watches also support ECG functionality and can check for Atrial fibrillation, often detecting heart problems on their own. It's a focus that turned Apple Watch from a cool way to tell the time to an indispensable health tool for many.

"The challenge for smartwatches has always been usefulness, and this was a huge issue when the segment started in 2013," James Stables, co-founder of mobile technology media group Wareable, told Lifewire via email. "The benchmark has always been, 'if you forgot your Apple Watch, would you go back home for it?'"

Now that Apple Watches are so capable and saving so many lives, the question is much different. If you forget your Apple Watch, can you risk not going back for it?

Experts note that Apple Watches are also a great way to stay safe at other times, not just when suffering from a medical emergency. Apple Watches, with cellular support and those connected to an iPhone, can make emergency calls at all times, which can be invaluable. The feature, called Emergency SOS, requires people to press and hold a single button on their Apple Watch, then drag an on-screen slider to initiate a call. A similar feature exists on iPhone, too.

Rahel Bayar, founder and CEO of safety organization The Bayar Group, believes Apple Watches can help people in other ways, like when they're unable to help themselves. 

"In a moment of intense trauma, your body and mind can shut down," Bayar told Lifewire via email. "To have a device or an option where you can press a button, and more easily access a call for help, without having to fight back, could be a significant self-defense tool able to be harnessed in moments of intense trauma."

With that in mind, Emergency SOS is a feature more people should be aware of, as is fall detection and, now, crash detection. Apple already markets the Apple Watch as a fitness device, but more could be made of the iPhone's emergency features—just like the newly announced SOS via satellite features on iPhone 14.

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