A Debate On Traffic Condition Reporting Apps
We recently read an article describng a new hardware and software package that warns you of speed traps, red light cameras, and school zones by flashing different colors on a dash-mounted indicator. The $129 USD TrapTap indicator uses Bluetooth Low-energy (BLE) to communicate with your smartphone and its mapping software.
Two of our team members had completely different reactions to this announcement.
I’m very much against this and similar apps like Waze for two reasons: effectiveness and safety.
I feel their effectiveness with speed traps is completely reliant on the number of users of that app traveling in the same direction I am to report a trap before I reach it.
This is somewhat proven as TrapTap says on their Kickstarter page, “We rely on you and the community to help warn drivers of the speed traps and hazards that you see on the road. Since we only know the location of each red light camera and school zone, it is up to you to be the hero and help locate any mobile speed traps or hazards you see otherwise.”
A radar detector is always scanning the road ahead (and in the case of our 360i system, behind too) for threats. There’s no false confidence that someone else has spotted and reported a trap.
And forget using these apps with police laser. Unless you have a jammer like our Defuser g5, you might as well get your wallet out instead of pressing an alert button to save others.
I’m against the use of these apps because my vehicle suffered bad rear end damage by a distracted driver. Luckily I wasn’t hurt, but I’m against anything that removes a driver’s eyes from the road for longer than a second. Watch the one TrapTap video clip where the driver has completely taken her eyes off the road because she’s hunting for the indicator in order to “snooze” an alert. Great…this device encourages someone to both speed and take their eyes off the road…thereby increasing the likelihood you could rear end me or someone else.
And the facts support my concern. According to the latest research by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety:
- Drivers who take their eyes off the road for more than two seconds can double their risk of being in a crash.
- Over 80% of drivers view distracted driving as a bigger problem than three years ago. (So it’s not just me having irrational fear)
- Previous research by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration estimates that distracted driving is a factor in at least 3,000 deaths per year, though the actual number is likely much higher.
Don’t want to take your eyes off the road for a monitoring device? If you own a K40 system and have called our free Consult service at 800-323-5608 to have your system fine tuned for your driving environment, there’s really no reason for you to take your eyes off the road with this protection system.
Even though these apps are marketed as being “100% legal” since it does not use any radar detecting technologies and a federal judge in the States passed a law recently allowing apps and similar devices to warn drivers of speed traps, I still believe an attorney could win a distracted driving lawsuit with these app users.
Add up all the risks and negatives and I don’t see the value of these as a standalone system or even as a compliment to a radar/laser protection system.
These apps can be extremely useful (I’m a BIG fan of Waze) and since many people are accustomed to using a variety of apps daily, I feel these traffic condition reporting apps are a natural compliment to a radar detector. To me, driving apps and radar detectors share a similar goal: overall increased driver awareness.
When using an app in combination with a K40 radar detector, I believe virtually all driving surprises are eliminated. According to DMR (a clearinghouse for digital marketing tips, stats, and news, there are currently 50 million active Waze users, which I count myself among. This multitude of like-minded individuals work together to help avoid traffic jams by reporting on road construction, accidents, and obstructions in the road. Our ultimate goal is to help each other arrive at our destination safely and in the most time-efficient manner possible.
Besides helping to keep you moving smoothly and without delay, fellow app users can also save you from a costly ticket caused by a radar or laser ambush. With K40’s radar detection range, I am able to contribute to the app user community by marking traps well in advance of the next user driver that will encounter that trap. This “early warning system” is especially beneficial in instant-on radar and LIDAR encounters because both speed measuring tactics offer little or no advanced warning. Instant-on radar is a ticketing method where the police officer sits with their radar gun in the OFF position and then triggers ON at short range to a vehicle, which leaves all drivers susceptible to a speeding ticket.
Alternatively, if you are targeted by LIDAR (police laser) and your vehicle is equipped with one or more K40 Laser Defuser g5 laser jammers, you can give yourself precious time to reduce speed and avoid a ticket because the officer will not obtain a speed reading from your vehicle. However, even with a laser jamming countermeasure, wouldn’t you rather be notified by the 10 app users ahead on the road that report a speed trap so that you can take the appropriate action and then relax well in advance of the threat rather than being jolted into action from a laser alert at 1000 feet?
When you add up the benefits of using these apps in combination with a radar detection and laser jamming system, I feel they complete the defensive awareness you can use to avoid a costly ticket.
So is He right, She right, or do both have valid points for their positions? We’ll turn comments on but keep ‘em clean and relevant to the topic please!