'Butt dials' wreak havoc on 911 centers

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October 13, 2012, 8:40 am
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(NECN/NBC News: Chris Clackum) - Accidental cell phone calls, commonly known as "butt dials," are wreaking havoc on the place that normally deals with real accidents: 911 call centers.    

Research from Winbourne Consulting shows 911 centers are overwhelmed by calls from someone accidentally hitting the 'Emergency' call button on their phone.

"In New York City, there are about 10,000 accidental 911 calls a day which obviously really add up," notes The Daily editor Jebediah Reed.

It adds up because police are dispatched by 911 operators who can't rule out something's really wrong on the other end.   

"The call will go to a 911 operator who will then hear an open line and it's very hard to tell sometimes whether there's an emergency," Reed explains.

The FCC has stepped in, advising people to lock their keypads and turn off the 911 auto-dial feature.

If you call 911 by accident, by all means, stay on the line.

"The worst thing to do is to hang up," Reed says. "You want to talk to the operator, you want to tell them 'I did this by accident.'"

Phone manufacturers are also changing setups so that pocket dials are less likely to occur.

Tags: 911, cell phone, emergency, Chris Clackum, call center
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