Your Google Pixel has car crash detection, too. Here’s how to set it up

Google Pixel car crash detection

June Wan/ZDNET

Apple’s recent iPhone launch saw a particular focus on emergency and security features. While Emergency SOS via Satellite was making waves for its off-world communications technology, Crash Detection — inherited from the Apple Watch — made for a more practical and tragically convenient user experience.

By monitoring changes in air pressure, speed, motion and sound, the iPhone 14 automatically connects you to local dispatchers when a car crash is detected. It’s a nifty feature that can actually save lives.

Luckily, you don’t have to buy the latest iPhone to have peace of mind. If you own one Google Pixel, car crash detection may already be available to you. It’s free and just as helpful when you need it most. Here’s how to set it up.

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How to set up car crash detection on the Google Pixel

Before you start digging through your phone settings, make sure you have a compatible Google Pixel as car crash detection isn’t available on every model. Luckily, the list of supported devices stretches far and even your four-year-old Pixel should make it. Here is the list:

  • Google Pixel 3a/XL
  • Google Pixel 3/XL
  • Google Pixel 4/XL
  • Google Pixel 4a
  • Google Pixel 5
  • Google Pixel 5a
  • Google Pixel 6/Pro
  • Google Pixel 6a

In the unfortunate event of a car accident, make sure your Pixel has a SIM card installed so it can contact emergency services. An eSIM plan should work just as well.

If you are not sure if you have a SIM card installed, you can go to your phone settings > Via phone > and then look for your wireless service provider SIM status. Or open the physical SIM card tray with an ejector and check if a card is installed.

Your Google Pixel should already have the security app downloaded. If not, go to the Play Store, search for “Personal Safety” and click “Install”.

When you set up the Safety app for the first time, you’ll be prompted to link the service to a Google account, add emergency contacts (optional) and medical information, and allow the pixel access to your location.

To turn on car crash detection, tap the settings cog in the top-left corner > then car crash detection under Detection & Alerts > and switch the function on.

If you confirm activation, your Pixel will show a warning that it’s using your device’s location, motion sensors and ambient noise to detect car accidents – even if you don’t have the Safety app open.

If you agree to passive tracking, tap OK and allow the app to access your physical activity and record audio.

Google Pixel Security App

Screenshot by June Wan/ZDNET

To familiarize yourself with the car crash detection protocol, tap Try a demo on the function page of the safety app and then beginning. Note that this is just a simulation of how the pixel behaves in a car crash.

When your Pixel starts beating and vibrating in a beacon-like rhythm, you’ll be prompted to either swipe i’m ok or call 911. There’s also a 60-second countdown that automatically triggers the second option if you’re unconscious and unable to interact with the Pixel.

Should you choose i’m okyour pixel reports by asking you to mark the detection as No accident or minor crashor call 911.

When you call 911, your location along with its coordinates will be shared with a local dispatcher.

google pixel car crash detection app

Screenshot by June Wan/ZDNET


What languages ​​does car crash detection support?

Currently, the Google Pixel feature supports English, French, French Canadian, Italian, Japanese, Mandarin Chinese and Spanish. Regionally, the feature is limited to Australia, Canada, France, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Singapore, Spain, Taiwan, the UK and the US.

Does the car accident detection always work?

Although your Pixel is always monitoring changes in the environment, successful and accurate accident detection cannot be guaranteed. For example, strong activations such as roller coaster rides may be enough to trigger the safety function.

Can I use Car Accident Detection without mobile data?

Unfortunately, you can’t use Car Crash Detection without dialing into a cellular network. In some cases, if your mobile connection is too weak, your Pixel device may not even have enough strength to reach 911.

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