There’s a solid chance that everyone reading this post has, at some point in their lives, crudely deposited their cellphone into a car’s cupholder. Sure, there are often other cubbies and trays designed for such a purpose but sometimes it is simply easier to dump that electronic slab into a receptacle designed for yer morning coffee. After all, can’t hurt, right?
Well, maybe it can. Staff tasked with answering 911 calls in the Red Deer area have been dealing with numerous accidental dialings thanks to this very action. On some phones, primarily the iPhone 8 and newer, a so-called safety feature permits the user to dial the emergency services by holding down both side buttons at once. The intent is that if you’ve your phone in a pocket and need to surreptitiously call 911 – think with your hands in your pockets during a robbery – this action can be done discretely. However, as those emergency responders in Alberta have discovered, this feature has created unintended and unwanted activity.
Your author, always skeptical of luddites railing against technology, investigated a bit further and found ample plausibility for this problem. According to my Milwaukee Tools Compact Magnetic Tape Measure, an iPhone XR measures about 7.5 inches across while the cupholders in a Dodge Challenger are 7 inches on the round. That’s close enough to cause problems, particularly is someone has a slightly narrower phone or a set of cupholders with those flexible rubber grips.
Solutions? Well, as a start, let’s stop jamming our phones into cupholders. It is also possible to disable this function on an iPhone by heading to Settings > Emergency SOS > Call with Hold and turning off the feature altogether. If you’re still worried about personal safety, know that most iPhones will also permit a call to 911 with five quick presses of the side button. This function can be turned on through the same menu in which the Call with Hold feature is disabled.
Or, y’know, leave your phone in a pocket or purse and focus on driving. That’ll work, too.