If you’ve never accidentally called 9-1-1, you’ve probably at least worried about it. The “emergency call” prompt on most phones makes the butt-dial too easy, and automatic redial features make the double-butt-dial a constant threat.
That said, four million butt-dials—the number New York City fielded in 2010—seems like a lot. In fact, it’s almost 40% of all emergency calls made. According to the Daily News, police cars were dispatched to 3.5 million homes as a result of accidental dials.
That’s so many! And what’s even crazier is that while butt-dials seem to cause a massive waste of resources, so far nothing has been done to stop them. This inertia may be due to the favorable impact butt-dialing apparently has on the NYPD’s average response time. NBC reports:
Despite the findings, the report says the city has done nothing to account for or combat the accidental 911 calls, which are generally shorter than calls reporting actual emergencies. The influx of those calls ultimately makes overall 911 response times appear shorter, the report said.
The NYPD reported an average response time of just over one minute in 2010. But considering accidental calls accounted for nearly 40 percent of all taken that year, “utilizing this metric as currently calculated does not accurately reflect the NYPD’s time spent on received and processed 911 calls,” the report said.
According to NBC, Mayor Bloomberg, having commissioned the report after the city’s slow response to blizzards over the holidays two years ago, is now under fire for its findings.
It’s hard to imagine how to fight accidental emergency calls without making it harder to dial 9-1-1 from cell phones—something that would seem less appealing if you’re actually in an emergency.
Granted, there are some occasions when a butt-dial works in the police’s favor (as more than just a way to massage the numbers). A few weeks ago, a car thief in PA accidentally butt-dialed the police while stealing a car, then two more times while talking about stealing rims, then a fourth time, while outright admitting to stealing two specific cars the cops were looking for. That had to have saved some time and cost. Though not nearly 4 million calls worth.
(Image via Shutterstock)