Accidental 911 calls are 38% of all emergency calls in NYC: ‘Butt-dials’ on rise

Dylan Stableford

Have you ever "butt-dialed" 911? If you have, you're not alone--especially if you live in New York City.

According to a new report, "accidental" calls to 911 accounted for about 38 percent of all emergency calls in the Big Apple in 2010. Of the 10.4 million calls fielded by the city's 911 system, 3,910,373 were inadvertent, according to the Daily News.

That's an average of 10,700 false calls a day, the paper said. Police cars were dispatched to about 3.5 million of all the emergency calls received, according to the report.

The study blamed the alarming number of accidental 911 calls on the "increased proliferation of cellular telephones."

"Despite the findings," NBC's New York affiliate noted, "the report says the city has done nothing to account for or combat the accidental 911 calls, which are generally shorter than calls reporting actual emergencies. The influx of those calls ultimately makes overall 911 response times appear shorter, the report said."

The report, made public on Friday, was commissioned by the mayor's office following criticism of Mayor Bloomberg's slow response to a 2010 blizzard that paralyzed the city.

The "butt-dial" problem is not limited to New York. Last year, CBS Chicago reported that 20 percent of emergency calls to 911 operators in Evanston, Ill., were unintentional.

"I don't think the public realizes how often this happens," Evanston 911 coordinator Perry Polinski told the station.

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