Woman injured in car crash grateful for 'really cool' iPhone feature

When a car slammed into the back of Lilli Newman's Honda all inside were jolted forward, including her phone.

A Gold Coast woman has praised a lifesaving iPhone feature she relied on when involved in a high-speed crash last month.

In mid-March Lilli Newman, 27, was stopped at a red traffic light, with her mum in the passenger seat, when a car travelling at approximately 70km/h slammed into the back of her Honda.

"Without breaking they drove into the back of my car," Ms Newman told Yahoo News Australia. "The car then pushed us into the car in front [at the traffic light], we were kind of compressed and couldn't open our car doors."

A photo of Lilli's Honda which has a huge dent at the back from the crash.
Lilli Newman and her mum were involved in a car crash on the Gold Coast which alerted her iPhone 14 to call emergency services with its crash detection feature. Source: Supplied

The impact of the early-morning crash near Nerang State School caused the woman and her mum to experience "really bad whiplash", slamming Ms Newman's head into the driver's window.

It also caused everything in the car to fling forward, including her iPhone 14 in the cupholder which triggered the crash detection feature to call emergency services.

"It started signalling an alarm and luckily both my mum and I were conscious," she said. "The phone said 'looks like you've been in a car accident, we're going to alert emergency services if you don't respond in 20 seconds'. And I was able to respond and continue the call through to emergency services."

A photo of Lilli's mum with a neck brace in a hospital bed after the crash. A photo of Lilli in her home with a neck brace.
Both Lilli and her mum experienced whiplash from the high-speed crash and were taken to hospital by individual ambulances. Source: Supplied

"As well as that, I started getting phone calls from my emergency contacts because it sent through a message of my location. I had only just gotten an iPhone 14 earlier this year and I didn't even know it had this really cool feature or anything."

She urged people to have their medical ID and emergency contacts updated in case of a life-threatening scenario like a crash.

How does a phone's crash detection feature work?

The feature is available on iPhone 14 and iPhone 14 Pro models with the latest version of iOS and Apple Watch Series 8, Apple Watch SE and Apple Watch Ultra. Crash detection is also available on several Google Pixel phones, but needs to be enabled.

Once a device detects a severe crash, an alert shows up giving the option to call emergency services or dismiss the alert. Otherwise emergency services will automatically be called within 20 seconds if there is no response.

A photo of the iPhone 14's crash detection feature as it comes up on the phone. A photo of a text message one of Lilli's emergency contacts received as part of the crash detection feature.
The iPhone's crash detection feature notified emergency services, and sent Lilli's select contacts an alert that she had been in a crash. Source: TikTok/lillnewman1

If there are any emergency contacts in the phone, it will automatically send a message to share the location and alert them that a severe car crash has occurred.

Dr Daswin De Silva, La Trobe University's Deputy Director of the Centre for Data Analytics and Cognition (CDAC), explained to Yahoo News Australia how the technology works.

"During a crash, the sensors pick up anomalous readings of vehicle acceleration, angular motion due to sudden stop/brake or toppling effect, and spikes in audible sound," he previously said. "Next, the AI [Artificial Intelligence] combines these together and when it exceeds a threshold it knows that this was not just the phone falling from a handbag but a car crash."

Crash victim not able to work but on the mend

Ms Newman said her and her mum, and the woman who they crashed into at the front, all travelled to hospital in individual ambulances, with the first arriving within 20 minutes and the other two following thereafter. "We did have to be taken to hospital in an ambulance each just because it was such a high-speed [crash]," she said. "I had a pretty bad headache and pain in my head."

Three weeks later, Ms Newman said she hasn't been able to go back to work and is still recovering. "I work at a desk job and haven't been able to do too much. I also haven't driven again or anything. The doctor thinks I may have torn some ligaments in my neck and my shoulder. It could of been a million times worse, but i'm still recovering."

The driver and passenger that caused the crash did not seemingly need medical attention, Ms Newman said.

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