Hoaxes & Rumors

Dialing 112 in an Emergency in the U.S.?

Dialing 112 in an Emergency in the U.S.?

A helpful hint shared online claims you can dial 112 to reach emergency services in the US and Canada. Today we’ll take a look at this claim.

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It is False in Most Situations.

112 is primarily a European emergency number. Even though it may work on a few phones in the U.S. and Canada, it is advisable to simply dial 911 in an emergency.

The 112 standard was implemented with a July 29, 1991 decision by the Council of the European Union. The International Telecommunication Union has suggested that either 112 or 911 be established for emergency services by member countries.

Thus, 112 is a common emergency number in Europe, as well as other countries, but it is not standard in North America. There are phones in the U.S. and Canada on which dialing 112 does work (GSM phones) but in this case the 112 calls are merely forwarded to 911. In Australia, 112 calls are forwarded to 000, the standard emergency number there.

The Internet Story

Let’s take a look at the story which has circulated for several years online:

WARNING: Some knew about the red light on cars, but not Dialing 112.
An UNMARKED police car pulled up behind her and put his lights on. Lauren’s parents have always told her to never pull over for an unmarked car on the side of the road, but rather to wait until they get to a gas station, etc.

Lauren had actually listened to her parents advice, and promptly called 112 on her cell phone to tell the police dispatcher that she would not pull over right away. She proceeded to tell the dispatcher that there was an unmarked police car with a flashing red light on his rooftop behind her. The dispatcher checked to see if there were police cars where she was and there weren’t, and he told her to keep driving, remain calm and that he had back up already on the way.

Ten minutes later 4 cop cars surrounded her and the unmarked car behind her. One policeman went to her side and the others surrounded the car behind. They pulled the guy from the car and tackled him to the ground. The man was a convicted rapist and wanted for other crimes.
I never knew about the 112 Cell Phone feature. I tried it on my AT&T phone & it said, “Dialing Emergency Number.”
Especially for a woman alone in a car, you should not pull over for an unmarked car. Apparently police have to respect your right to keep going on to a safe place.

*Speaking to a service representative at Bell Mobility confirmed that 112 was a direct link to State trooper info. So, now it’s your turn to let your friends know about “Dialing, 112”

You may want to send this to every Man, Woman & Youngster you know; it may well save a life.

This applies to ALL 50 states

If You Aren’t Sure a Pullover is Real

We will defer to the advice of Capt. Paul Starks as quoted in this Washington Post article:

Before stopping your car, if the purported police car doesn’t look like a real police vehicle or doesn’t seem right in any other way, call 911. Tell the dispatcher that what looks to be a police car is following you but that the situation doesn’t feel right and you want to drive to a well-lit, public area — a gas station, for example — before pulling over. This also allows the police department to check whether a real officer is making the stop.

Bottom Line

Dialing 112 will probably not reach emergency services in the U.S. or Canada. It could also cost you valuable seconds in an emergency if it doesn’t. If you have an emergency, dial 911.

Updated October 22, 2014
Originally published February 2013


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  • G Tom

    Thanks for all you do, Waffles. For each internet hoax I see, I link your site debunking it on my own Facebook page.

    The world is full of suckers, Barnum was right.*

    *Although P.T. Barnum didn’t actually say “There’s a sucker born every minute.”

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