Trapster: A Cellphone Social Network To Fight Speed Traps

Each year, Americans spend billions (yes, we said billions) of dollars on traffic tickets. Launched in April, a new service called Trapster aims to help keep some of that money in your pocket by alerting you to nearby speed traps through your cell phone or PDA. According to CNN, Trapster incorporates a live database with your mobile device’s GPS or WiFi capability to alert you to nearby police speed traps as well as radar and red-light cameras. Details and demonstration video, inside…..

Trapster is basically live social network of mobile devices which is designed to give real-time alerts about the location of speed traps. Once you sign up for the free membership, you simply download the software to your cell phone or PDA. According to developer Pete Tenerillio, most current-generation phones, Blackberries and PDA’s can run the software. Once you are on the road, your device will emit audio alerts when in the vicinity of a reported speed trap. To report a speed trap, users can simply hit “pound 1” or dial a toll-free number.

The article says,

“Pete needed to get Trapster into as many handsets as possible, as many different types of phones and PDAs as he could, in order to build a large interactive social network,” Ted Morgan, Skybook’s CEO, explained. “A big challenge for a service like Trapster is that it requires the phone to know its own location. So, by integrating our [WiFi positioning] technology, it enabled Trapster to expand the potential pool of phones they could get service onto.

“We take advantage of the fact that there are WiFi access points almost everywhere in populated areas — homes, offices, Starbucks stores, etc,” Morgan said. “We have crews that go out and survey every street, we’ve covered over a million miles of road, which covers 70 percent of the population. We’ve now mapped over 40 million access points.”

The debate as to whether this type of service encourages speeders or promotes safe driving is never-ending. Conversely, one could debate whether a speed trap’s primary function is to keep roads safe or to pad local revenues. Ultimately, it may be a combination of all these factors which plays a role in this high-tech version of cat and mouse. Unfortunately, we couldn’t find any information regarding the size of Trapster’s user base so it’s effectiveness could be limited depending on your area.

Speed traps — new way to avoid them
(Photo: Getty)