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Police say 911 butt-dialing is an unwanted distraction

textdriving070711_optBY BOB HOLT
NEWJERSEYNEWSROOM.COM

No one likes receiving prank calls, telemarketing calls, or wrong numbers. The increase in cell phone usage in recent years have increased your chances in getting wrong number calls.

But there are times when a wrong number can be a matter of public safety. Like an accidental 911 call.

According to CBS Chicago, someone accidentally dials the Evanston 911 center from their cell phone around 500 times each month. The center says that about 90 percent of those unintentional calls come from “butt-dialing,” caused by someone sitting on their phone or hitting keys by accident. Emergency management agencies across the country are saying the problem is growing all over.

The Evanston 911 center mentioned that an accidental 911 call happening at the same time as an actual emergency could take away valuable time needed to aid with that problem. Operators are required to stay on the line until the cell phone call drops, then call it back to see if the emergency is genuine.

Across the border in Toronto, back in January thestar.com reported an unofficial study found that the city's 911 operators respond to 300 accidental calls a day. The Toronto Police began the research after finding that the number of emergency calls rose 120,000 in 2010 from 2009.

Illinois has had their share of issues with butt-dialed calls. In January, the Chicago Tribune reported that a wife received a garbled call from her husband's cell phone. The man was listening to music with gangster-like lyrics on his way home, and she became concerned because no one was speaking.

So her 911 call led to 30 SWAT team members circling the school where the man works, looking for a reported gunman who might be holding a hostage.

To avoid such unintentional calls, cell phone users are recommended to cover the touch pads or keyboards of their phones when they’re not in use and, if you mistakenly dial 911, stay on the line and inform the operator it was an accident. They might also lock the keypad or screen before putting the cell phone away.

 

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