There are approximately 300 million cell phone users in America, and by some estimates 900 BILLION cell phone calls are made each year.
However, not all of these calls are intentional.
When you accidentally fumble inside your pocket or purse, or sit down and “butt dial” your cell phone, you typically just re-dial the last number. However, many of these calls are going to 9-1-1, and that’s a problem.
Calling 9-1-1 and just hanging up is confusing to the operators. They don’t know if you were in a real emergency and suddenly were forced to hang up or were in danger. Emergency services personnel ask that people who make an accidental call to please stay on the line and let the operator know.
One suburban Chicago town estimates that 20% of the calls made to their 9-1-1 emergency operators is an accident. “Purse dialing” or “butt dialing” is an unintended consequence of the massive growth of the cell phone business.
Evanston, Illinois has a population of 75,000, and CBS 2 reports that each month as many as 500 unintentional calls to 9-1-1 are made:
Considering that the small town of Evanston gets 17 accidental calls per day and that is putting a strain on their emergency services system, the national implications are huge.
Extrapolate Evanston’s experience to a national level. If we are making 900 billion phone calls and 20% of those call could be accidental, that means as many as 180 billion false 9-1-1 calls could be happening every year.
False 9-1-1 calls waste time and could potentially cost many lives as operators are trying to figure out if a butt-dial call is real while people actually needing help are waiting to speak to someone.
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