Say What? Police chief denounces 'cowardly' iPhone users monitoring speed traps

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Say What? Police chief denounces 'cowardly' iPhone users monitoring speed traps

cathy-lanier-police-chief-dc.jpgAccording to the Washington Examiner, D.C. police chief Cathy Lanier is "irked" that Americans are using an iPhone application to outwit speed traps and traffic cameras which uses GPS to pinpoint the location of the cameras & speedtraps and warns users as they drive. Interesting that the article mentions PhantomAlert, which is a paid subscription that lets you download their database of speed traps and cameras when their are free options such as Trapster available. I don't believe PhantomAlert is even available on the iPhone. I don't see it in the App Store when I searched for it.

According to the article, Lanier said that the technology is a "cowardly tactic" and "people who overly rely on those and break the law anyway are going to get caught" in one way or another. She went on to say, "I think that's the whole point of this program. It's designed to circumvent law enforcement -- law enforcement that is designed specifically to save lives."

Wait a second here. If I'm using this iPhone application and it warns me about speed traps, traffic cameras, etc. and it influences me to slow down, isn't that serving the same purpose as receiving a traffic ticket, but without the trapster-iphone.jpgassociated ticket costs? If the end goal is to cause people to respect the speed limit for safety reasons, then if anything the iPhone application does a better job than speed traps or traffic cameras. After all, a police officer can only pull over so many speeders, while the iPhone application on the other hand will encourage users to slow at every potential speed trap or traffic camera. I use Trapster for the iPhone myself and it warns me about speed traps. It does cause me to drive slower in these areas.

In fact, before I had this application, my heavy foot (former Dodge Viper driver) would cause me to drive pretty fast on highway roads or even rural areas. Now with Trapster warning me, I'm driving much slower in these areas, thus reducing the risk my speed might injure myself or someone else. Of course, personally I don't buy into driving 70mph in a 55mph zone is causing any additional risk to the public or myself. The fact that I like to eat McDonald's french fries is probably increasing my risk of an earlier death than going 15mph over the speed limit.

So the D.C. police chief should be thanking these types of applications if the end goal is to cause people to follow the law. Of course, we know the real purpose of speed traps and traffic cameras - it's to fill the coffers of the local city, which according to the article Montgomery County expects to make $29 million from its red light and speed cameras. Update: The article states, "The greater D.C. area has 290 red-light and speed cameras -- comprising nearly 10 percent of all traffic cameras in the U.S., according to estimates by a camera-tracking database called the POI Factory." 10% of all nationwide traffic cams just for a city? That's just insane!

It's a speed tax - plain and simple and they don't like the fact that these "warning applications" for mobile devices and GPS units may cause you to drive slower and adversely impact their revenue stream. I for one can't wait till teleportation is invented so we can get to point A to point B without "the man" writing out a $300 ticket for doing 70mph in a 55mph zone.

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