As much as we all like to think we're invincible (or maybe that's just me?) the truth is, we’re not – and our safety is pretty darn important.
Luckily for us, there's plenty of tech out there that's designed to keep us safe and provide help when we need it the most, and when we're not in a position to ask for it ourselves.
From simple, everyday objects like traffic lights to super smart software like Car Crash Detection from Google Pixel, we're fortunate enough to live in a golden age of safety devices. These things might not make us invincible, it's true, but they can help keep us safe a little longer. And we're pretty okay with that.
What is Google Crash Detection?
You might be surprised to hear that Car Crash Detection from Google has been doing its thing for Pixel users for years now – since it was first introduced with the Pixel 4 back in 2019. You might not have heard of it until Apple released their version in 2022, but Google's been watching out for your driving for a while.
It's a brilliant idea when you think about it – using a combination of tools that are already part of your mobile to detect if you're in a car accident. When this happens (though we all hope it never will) the Pixel device will vibrate and play a sound to see if you're okay. You can tap the notification to say you're alright, and it'll go off, or you can tap the notification that reads "Emergency". You can also say the word "Emergency" out loud, too.
Of course, in some circumstances you might not be able to respond at all – you could be unconscious or unable to move. In these scenarios, the device will wait for 60 seconds before automatically contacting emergency services and providing them with your location. Overall, pretty neat, huh?
How do I turn on Crash Detection?
Since it's a Pixel-exclusive feature on Android, it's pretty easy to turn on using the Safety app that's pre-installed on your device. There are actually a few other cool safety features in here too, and you can fill out your personal information, medical information and emergency contacts here – and these can be viewed in an emergency without the need to unlock your device.
To turn Crash Detection on, open the Safety app from your menu (if you can't find it, you can search for it.) Depending on your device, you can either tap the Settings icon or the Features tab at the bottom of the screen.
From here, scroll down to Car Crash Detection, and toggle it on. You can even try out a demo, so you can see how it works. If you're asked for location permission, make sure you toggle it to Allow, to make sure it can work correctly. The same goes for allowing microphone and physical activity prompts.
Which Pixel devices have Crash Detection?
At the time of writing, Crash detection is available on devices from the Pixel 3 right up to the Pixel 7 series.
How does Crash Detection know if I've been in a car accident?
Good question, and the answer is that it's just a smart bit of tech.
The longer answer is that your Pixel uses a combination of your device's location, motion sensors (like the gyroscope and accelerometer) and ambient audio picked up on the mic to detect a possible crash. That's why it's important to enable location, microphone and physical activity sharing with the app when you set it up!
However, your Pixel isn't infallible – it won't necessarily pick up on all accidents and can occasionally incorrectly trigger when your phone experiences a similar environment – like if you take a particularly hard fall that's high impact. And of course, it relies on a signal from your mobile phone network to make a call to emergency services.
What if I don't have a Pixel device?
Although Pixel devices run on Android, Crash Detection isn't available on other Android devices at the moment.
However, Apple users have a similar version of Crash Detection on the latest iPhone devices and wearables, and there are also a number of third-party apps that work similarly (but have to be enabled each time you get in the car.)