Emergency number dialled on keylocked cellphone

What is that all about? I mean really, how many erroneous calls to emergency services* are clocked up because of that? And what exactly is the idea? Someone stumbles across an unconcious individual in need of help and searching their pockets finds a cellphone to call for help but can’t follow the instructions to release the keylock but can somehow follow the instructions to dial 911/999/112?

This might sound like a pit thread but i’m not really mad about it, just somewhat confused.

What is the point? Does anyone understand this logic? Is it the same elsewhere or is this a bizarre UK cellphone thing?

  • I guess this isn’t so much of an issue in other countries but with an emegency number like 999, it’s pretty easy to dial by simply sitting in the wrong position with your phone in your pocket!

Uh, I don’t know about you, but I don’t carry my phone’s manual around with me, and when I lock the phone, it jsut says “Phone locked” so there is no way you can unlock it unless you know my unlock code. Which is different (or should be) for every phone.

Also, in a true emergency, your brain does wierd things to you, and you might not remember your unlock code, so it allows you to dial 911 (or whatever) even with the phone locked.

And I’m willing to bet that’s the rationale - “Better to get 1000 false alarms than miss 1 genuine emergency.” I don’t necessarily agree with it, but I suspect that’s it.

The logic is that one will be able to call emergency services even if one can’t unlock the cellphone. I read somewhere (sorry, no cite) that even an deactivated cellphone can call 911.

In my area anyway, this extends also to landlines. If one’s phone service has been cut off due to non-payment or whatever, it is still possible to call 911.

I run a program called Butler on my Treo, which adds a whole lot of cool functionality to the phone, plus replaces a few of the Treo’s more basic (and somewhat more annoying) built-in features. One of them is a replacement for the keylock, which displays a dialog when the phone is turned on about how to unlock the phone – just press the center button. Easy! Also, it doesn’t allow emergency dialing with the keylock engaged.

I saw a documentary on the Beeb a few months ago that said something like 40% of UK calls to 999 are mobile phone errors. And because the silence at the other end could be someone in distress, they’re obliged to stay on the line until it goes dead. It’s a major problem. The sooner we drop it for mobiles in favour of 112, the better.

You can lock your phone by accident, and if you never use the feature, it can take awhile to unlock it. Happened to me :rolleyes:

Why is 112 less likely to be dialed by accident than 999?

Yes, phone systems are interesting. Most businesses have phone systems which require you to dial 9 to get an outside line. If you’re dialing long-distance, you then press 1. If your phone is touchy or you are dialling too quickly, it’s pretty easy to dial 911 when you’re just trying to call a client. In our case one of the more common area codes is 248, so if you fat-finger the key, you have a 50% chance that you just dialed emergency services.

If you do that, please don’t hang up. If you hang up, they send an ambulance, a fire truck, and lord knows what else to your location, and they don’t like to do that when there’s no emergency.

Because it’s not just one number that can be “held down” by pressure on a single corner of the phone.

To be clear, i just mean keypad locked not security locked. There is no code required to disable a keypad lock and i honestly can’t remember ever seeing a phone that didn’t have the unlock instructions displayed on the screen as soon as you touch any key.

Not saying they don’t exist, just i really can’t think i’ve ever seen one. I can be pretty sure that every nokia made in the last 10 years has this feature and i’m pretty sure most phones do. My point was that these onscreen instructions are pretty much as easy to follow as the instruction to dial, as even though the call is allowed there is still a ‘press x to confirm’ or something.

To be fair, i think the problem is more a UK thing and as **jjimm ** says, maybe changing to 112 would be a better solution although that of course would have problems of it’s own.

40% of calls are mistakes! Doesn’t that strike you as a pretty problematic situation? Is the one in a million chance that it will cause a delay in dialling worth that?

This happened to my phone all the time. It was a non-flip that did not require a code to unlock the keypad. The only numbers available for dialing when the keylock was on were 9 and 1. So technically I could call 999, 111, or 999-111 if I desired. If I dropped the phone in my purse and it hit the 9, the 9 would stay up until 30 or 40 minutes later I jostle the purse and the 1 gets hit, and so on. This was a big problem for my husband, who had the same style phone and kept it in his pocket.
We got new phones for Christmas.

Just a “funny” story, my mom’s cell phone number used to be 9-11. I picked up our landline-cordless phone to call her, hit talk, and quicly dialed the first two digits before the phone connected with the base. I ended up actually dialing 911**. I was pretty surprised when a man answered asking what my emergency was!

Some phones, apparently, have a button marked “help”, which some people assume will connect them with customer support for their phone. You’d think they’d get a clue when we answer the phone with “911, what is the address of your emergency?” but they’ll barrel right in to their sob story about how they couldn’t pay their cell phone bill this month and we shouldn’t cut them off because it’s not their fault that those Mafia hitmen kidnapped their dog and held it for ransom so they didn’t have any spare money and they neeeeeeed their cell phone…

Here’s a pretty good wiki article on e911. The problem we’re facing these days is we can’t upgrade our equipment fast enough to keep up with all the new technology, and frankly it’s a crap shoot as to whether the operator answering your 911 cell phone call will even be in the same county as you, which is why it’s important to stay on the phone and tell us where you are. Local governments are often reluctant to release the funds necessary to upgrade and maintain their communications centers (at least MY local government is) because of the mistaken impression that we just answer phones. Heh. If it was just answering phones I could make more money doing customer service for AOL.

Not a cell phone, but when my stepson was young and, newly married, he programed his cordless to speed dial 911 (yeah, I know! :smack: ). His toddler soon got hold of the phone, followed shortly after by a visit from a sherrifs’s deputy responding to an unknown emergency. The deputy was understanding and just cautioned them to keep the phone out of reach.
When it happened again a few weeks later, the same deputy responded again. This time he asked a few more questions, discovering the speed dial circumstance. He then gave both parents a long stern lecture on stupidity, responsibility, high speed driving on country roads and the frustration of responding to false alarms.
It was several years before my son got around to telling me this story. :rolleyes: