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Google’s Personal Safety app detects car accidents and automatically calls 911

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When a crash is detected, the app will ask if you’re okay

The Apple Watch’s fall detection has already been credited with saving lives, and now Google is applying that sort of thinking to car safety. According to XDA Developers, Google is at work on a Personal Safety app with “car crash detection.” With the help of various sensors including the accelerometer and even the microphone, Pixel phones will attempt to detect an accident. If one occurs, the phone will loudly sound an alarm, and if there’s no response, it will automatically call 911 and provide your location to emergency services in the US.

XDA Developers managed to catch the Play Store listing that Google posted prematurely, which included several screenshots of the Personal Safety app. Based on those images, people will have more than one opportunity after a detected accident to confirm that they’re okay and prevent an emergency call from being placed; the demo apparently asks twice for a response before initiating the 911 process.

So, how does all of this work? Google says Personal Safety uses a Pixel’s location, motion sensors, and “ambient audio” from the microphone to figure out if an accident has occurred. (Perhaps it’s listening for broken glass or collisions similar to how Alexa Guard can hear break-ins.) But the company also warns that “high-impact activities might activate car crash detection,” so there might be occasions where you’ll have to tap “I’m OK” to stop a false-trigger emergency call. After confirming that you’re okay, Personal Safety asks what happened, and you can pick between no crash or minor crash to help improve future detection accuracy.

The Personal Safety listing reveals that car crash functionality will only be available in the United States whenever this feature rolls out. Speaking of, it’s likely this app will debut as yet another new software trick of the Pixel 4 before expanding to older Pixel devices.

I’m all for features like this. Yes, there might be the occasional mixup and erroneous 911 call, but car crash detection could also save many people who are incapacitated after an accident. Approximately 40,000 people died in road accidents in the US last year. If this can help lower that number, why not?

Outside of road incidents, Personal Safety will also be able to automatically message your emergency contacts if you find yourself in a dangerous situation and need help.

We should learn more about Personal Safety at Google’s Pixel 4 event on October 15th.