One of my first tickets ever was on a road trip in college to visit friends in another state. A highway patrol car was parked behind an obstruction right where the speed limit on the interstate dropped from 70 to 55. While I didn’t slow down fast enough, the officer was clearly positioned to take advantage of the speed change and hand out tickets. Nowadays, I’m not much of a speedster but I do drive around town quite a bit and the last thing I can afford is a speeding ticket. There are a couple iPhone apps that try to help you be mindful of safe driving and avoid speed traps and the one that I’ve been using this last week is Trapster.
Trapster uses the built-in location services of the iPhone to display where you are on a map and shows user-reported speed traps, red-light cameras, and speed cameras (the ones that actually issue tickets) that are nearby. Users can improve the system by reporting new locations to trapster.com right through the iPhone app. The advantage of this system is that the updates are much closer to real-time than they would be with a web-based system where users report when they get back to a computer.
The app is designed to be used while driving…or at least while you’re in your car. Being at a complete stop when using this is probably a good idea.
Trapster will announce the type of locations within your search area (this can be set by the user) and give you an audio warning as you approach new speed traps. The only thing I found annoying is that Trapster would continue to announce these alerts over and over again as long as they were in my search radius. I was able to control this a little by tuning the search radius and the frequency of announcements, but I never found a setting that worked just the way I wanted. I was also disappointed that Trapster would move my current location on the map and then redraw after I reached the edge. I would prefer that it just kept my location centered (like you can setup in the built-in Maps application).
A recent update to the app also allows it to work reliably in European countries with localized settings. Trapster is a free download in the iTunes app store.