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How 'butt-dialing' is putting lives at risk

How 'butt-dialing' is putting lives at risk
PHOTO COURTESY OF SHUTTERSTOCK

Butt-dialing can be funny. The name alone conjures up giggles from just about everyone. Of course, butt-dialed calls can be annoying, like when a friend keeps calling you over and over, but they don't speak.

There is a darker side to butt-dialing, too. One that is costing taxpayers untold amounts of money, and putting people's lives at risk.

We're talking about butt-dialed 911 calls. It's a lot more common than you think. In one study, in San Francisco, researchers found that 30% of 911 calls made from cellphones were butt-dialed. Meaning, the person who called 911 didn't actually need help.

However, the problem is likely much bigger than that. The Federal Communications Commission estimates that 50% of 911 calls made on cellphones in New York City are butt-dialed, based on anecdotal evidence. The FCC thinks that 911 operators around the country are fielding as many as 84 million butt-dialed calls every year. (About 70% of 911 calls are made from cellphones.)

That's a lot of time wasted. You might know that every 911 call has to be followed up. If a person is actually in danger, they may be in a situation where they're being forced to say that everything is OK.

Note: Do you know that you can text 911?

Next page: Time and money wasted on 911 calls
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