According to a report by The Daily, for every 100 calls made to 911 this year, about 40 were accidental, likely coming from someone's purse or pocket. In total, 100 million "illegitimate 911 calls" were made last year.
The issue of pocket dials tying up the time of emergency responders has already been well documented in large cities. New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg's administration, for example, released a report last spring that found accidental calls actually outnumbered real emergency calls in which police were dispatched to a scene, the New York Daily News reports.
But The Daily reports that responders are struggling to handle the number of errant dials on a national level. Responders have to stay on the phone even if there's just silence to find out if the call is related to an emergency, which leads to less efficient responses to real emergencies. According to the report, the surge in calls can be explained by people not locking their phones, having 911 on speed dial or having an emergency call function on their phones.