Stop Butt-Dialing 911

New York City says their emergency services are being swamped by over four million “accidental” calls annually.

An astounding 38% of some 10.4 million calls to 911 during 2010 involved such accidental or false alarm “short calls” of 19 seconds or less — that’s an average of 10,700 false calls a day. Most of the calls — commonly referred to as butt calls — came from cell phone users who mistakenly dial 911 when making contact with phones in their back pockets, purses or elsewhere. Each time one occurred, NYPD operators lost valuable time trying to determine if someone was even on the line. The 911 system handled 3,910,373 butt calls in 2010, the report noted — even more than the 3,495,716 calls in which police cars were dispatched to actual emergencies.

Currently about 59% of all 911 calls are made from cell phones.