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Ford Emergency Device Squeals On Florida Hit-And-Run Driver

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

By the way, here's another note on Ford technology. This month, a gizmo in a Ford vehicle squealed on its driver. It called the police without her knowledge.

ARI SHAPIRO, HOST:

Now, this case of a machine rising up against its human user is not quite the level of self-awareness you find in the "Terminator" movies.

CORNISH: No (laughter).

SHAPIRO: This was a device called 911 Assist. Other carmakers have similar systems. GM's is called OnStar. Here's how it works. If you're in an accident and you can't call for help, this technology will do it for you. But in this case, a Florida woman did not want to call for help. She bashed into a couple cars and fled the scene. That's when the technology stepped in.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

COMPUTER-GENERATED VOICE: Attention, a crash has occurred. Line open.

UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN #1: Hello. Can anyone hear me?

UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN #2: Yes, yes.

UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN #1: OK. This is 911. You've been involved in an accident.

UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN #2: No.

CORNISH: That's a recording made by the Port St. Lucie Police dispatcher. The driver was a 57-year-old woman who denied her accident. As a result of her hit and run, another woman sustained minor injuries and was treated and released from a local hospital. 911 Assist says its default position is off unless the driver turns it on. In this case, the police dispatcher thought something sounded fishy.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN #1: Well, your car called in to us because it said you'd been involved in an accident. Are you sure everything's OK?

UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN #2: Everything's OK.

UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN #1: OK. Are you broke down?

UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN #2: No, I'm fine. The guy that hit me - he did not turn.

UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN #1: OK, so you have been involved in an accident.

UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN #2: No, I haven't.

UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN #1: Did you hit a car?

UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN #2: No, I didn't.

UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN #1: Did you leave the scene of an accident?

UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN #2: No. I would never do anything like that.

SHAPIRO: Moral of the story - drivers beware. If you're going to be reckless, your onboard conscience may turn on you. By the way, in case you're wondering, yes, alcohol was involved in this incident. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.