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New Service Maps Speed Traps By Cell Phone

kdawson posted more than 6 years ago | from the i-didn't-do-it-nobody-saw-me-you-can't-prove-anything dept.

Cellphones 404

esocid writes "In a modern equivalent of flashing your headlights to warn other motorists of police speed traps, you can now warn fellow drivers with a cell phone or personal digital assistant about speed traps, red-light cameras, and other threats to ticket-free driving. And as you approach a known threat, you'll get an audio alert on your mobile device. The developer of Trapster, Pete Tenereillo, said the system, which requires punching in a few keys such as '#1' to submit information to Trapster's database, should comply with laws banning talking on cell phones. The free service can automatically detect location using mobile devices' GPS capabilities or tap their Wi-Fi and get location from a database run by Skyhook Wireless. Police officials that Tenereillo has talked to haven't complained about the service because it inevitably encourages drivers to slow down."

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That's a violation (4, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22953552)

of the privacy of police officers!

Re:That's a violation (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22954350)

Actually, a lot of people probably won't realize that by allowing "Trapster" to track their movements and feed data back to them based on location, they will be giving up a big part of their own privacy and helping to create a database that will no doubt be subpoenaed from time to time -- if not outright plundered through misuse of the so-called Patriot Act.

In addition, with speeders allowing their locations to be tracked, that database also documents their speeding. A juicy target if the speeder is involved in a collision and the victim(s) want another way to establish reckless driving.

Or, it's just a useful target anyway to document and prosecute speeders. Most subscribers will no doubt be speeders, so as the police state becomes stronger, look for your now well-documented past to come back to haunt you.

And what happens to all of that data if there is a security breach at the company and someone exfiltrates all of the records. Most probably wouldn't care, but the higher your profile, the more you could expect to see your actions published in the open for all to see.

No thanks. I'll just keep my radar detector.

Why complain? (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22953556)

I would think a police official would find it easier to just have police drive past points hitting #1, saving money on police traps and increasing coverage?

Re:Why complain? (2, Funny)

Xtravar (725372) | more than 6 years ago | (#22953620)

But then the police would... have to find something useful to do.

Unanticipated Use (2, Interesting)

Stanistani (808333) | more than 6 years ago | (#22953702)

>Information about active speed traps is kept for an hour, with the idea that officers may move on.

Indeed. This could become the system of choice for the subset of people who need to know exactly where the police are running 'john' stings, drug sweeps, or just parked in a neighborhood.

I wonder what effect that could have?

Re:Why complain? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22954330)

maybe they could start by getting the details of people submitting information to a website while driving...

Cell phone speed trapping (0, Offtopic)

jpdzahr (1260592) | more than 6 years ago | (#22954360)

Cell phone speed trapping sounds like a clever idea not sure how real value it is compared to high tech radar detection in cars. I'd love it know more about the quality of real time cell capture system. http://www.usarealtorsdirectory.com/ [usarealtorsdirectory.com]

Dammit Slashdot! (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22953586)

Don't keybind the '/'!!!

Re:Dammit Slashdot! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22953674)

Especially to something so retarded as moving the slider around on the page.

So (4, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22953596)

You're rocketing down the freeway exceeding the speed limit checking your phone for text messages warning you to slow down. I hope you die in car fire.

Re:So (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22953762)

"You're rocketing down the freeway exceeding the speed limit checking your phone for text messages warning you to slow down. I hope you die in car fire."

Just don't take anyone else with you

Re:So (2, Interesting)

spun (1352) | more than 6 years ago | (#22953856)

No shit. What we really need is a site to report speeders, red light runners, drunk drivers, people putting on makeup or reading while driving, people going 25 in the fast lane of the freeway with their left blinker on, tail-gaters, and people who swerve in and out of lanes trying to get ahead of anyone else. Cops aren't a problem if you aren't driving wrong, it's the thoughtless, selfish drivers on the road.

I want a site that lets me coordinate with others to piss these types off, say, by getting together and driving in formation at exactly the speed limit, blocking the bastards. Gater-baiter.com?

Anyone know where I can get paintball ammunition loaded with glass etching creme or paint remover?

Re:So (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22953878)

> Cops aren't a problem if you aren't driving wrong, it's the thoughtless, selfish drivers on the road.

And of course it's not you. Everyone always thinks they're a better driver than everyone else.

That's exactly what a selfish driver would say. (5, Insightful)

spun (1352) | more than 6 years ago | (#22954028)

Guess what? I have never been in an accident and never been ticketed in 18 years of driving. I always signal, never drive more than 5 miles over the speed limit, always let people in when they signal, maintain a safe following distance, and generally don't act like an ass on the road.

Am I better than other drivers? Perhaps, it depends on what you mean by better. What I am is a safe and courteous driver.

Re:That's exactly what a selfish driver would say. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22954052)

Cool. In two years, you'll get a gold star for 20 years of safe driving.

And you get a gold star now for douchebaggery (1, Flamebait)

spun (1352) | more than 6 years ago | (#22954120)

No, idiot, what I'll get is no tickets and no accidents, plus the happy feeling of knowing I'm not an ass.

You know who gets defensive and insulting when stories like this pop up? Drivers who are secretly ashamed of the fact that they drive like assholes.

Re:And you get a gold star now for douchebaggery (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22954264)

And yet you're the one throwing around the 'douchebaggery' label...amazing how that goes.

Re:And you get a gold star now for douchebaggery (2, Insightful)

NeverVotedBush (1041088) | more than 6 years ago | (#22954392)

What you will also get are discounts on your insurance because of a safe driving record. Over the years that adds up to quite a bit.

Re:That's exactly what a selfish driver would say. (2, Insightful)

The Redster! (874352) | more than 6 years ago | (#22954332)

A gold star may not count for much, but the insurance discount sure does.

Re:So (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22953880)

In Seattle, there is a phone number posted on the freeways that you can call if you see a car with only a driver in the HOV lanes. It's something like 555-HERO. In Seattle, this makes you a hero.

Re:So (2, Funny)

yo_tuco (795102) | more than 6 years ago | (#22954102)

"In Seattle, this makes you a hero."

No, it makes you a 206-RAT-FINK. If you want to be a hero, just dial 911 to make a cop come.

Re:So (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22954132)

"In Seattle, there is a phone number posted on the freeways that you can call if you see a car with only a driver in the HOV lanes. It's something like 555-HERO. In Seattle, this makes you a hero."

In Seattle, they care more about saving the HOV lanes than the Sonics

Re:So (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22954236)

The needs of the many out weigh the needs of a few.

Re:So (2, Insightful)

PhreakOfTime (588141) | more than 6 years ago | (#22954274)

I want a site that lets me coordinate with others to piss these types off, say, by getting together and driving in formation at exactly the speed limit, blocking the bastards.

Why dont you just focus on your own driving for a change and worry about driving to your destination? That would be a pretty shallow way to live, thinking that somehow YOU have the say in how other people can drive just because you want to. In the state I live in, doing what you just suggested has a name. Its called BREAKING THE LAW. You see, driving at the speed limit in the left lane of a multilane highway is breaking the law. Its called the 'passing lane' and you could get pulled over and given a ticket if you thought it was amusing to be a smart ass by 'blocking' somebody in.

I eagerly await to hear your rationalization of how YOUR way of breaking the law is somehow more rightous that those speeders, and light runners who are breaking the law, albeit a different one.

Re:So (1)

ericspinder (146776) | more than 6 years ago | (#22954386)

You're rocketing down the freeway exceeding the speed limit...
And suddenly for no reason apparent to you the guy just in front of you hits his brakes, hard. Even if you have the wherewithal to follow at a safe distance, most drivers actually overbrake when they see police cars, and now this will happen even when the cops have long gone. If they were ever there in the first place.

If getting drivers to slow down was the point... (4, Insightful)

TubeSteak (669689) | more than 6 years ago | (#22953602)

The police wouldn't be setting up speed traps.
A patrol car in the median is more than enough to slow down all but the stupid or inattentive.

Re:If getting drivers to slow down was the point.. (1)

catbutt (469582) | more than 6 years ago | (#22953684)

Don't they want to slow people down in general, not just when they are there with a patrol car or radar gun? At least I thought that was the theory.

Re:If getting drivers to slow down was the point.. (3, Insightful)

truthsearch (249536) | more than 6 years ago | (#22954278)

Don't they want to slow people down in general
Not where I live. The police hide and let cars go by that are 15 mph over the limit. They wait to see a car going 15+ to get a bigger ticket. It seems to be all about the revenue, not safety.

And I imagine it's worse in many small towns where moving violations sometimes make up a large portion of the town revenue.

Re:If getting drivers to slow down was the point.. (2, Interesting)

EastCoastSurfer (310758) | more than 6 years ago | (#22953772)

Maybe it's just where I live, but police do that too. I think it depends on the city/town.

For example, anytime I drive to Tampa, FL there is a crazy stretch of road where the speed limits go from 55->25->45->25 etc... where the police really do make money from the speed trap revenues. It's pretty amusing since people have put billboards up complaining about the ticketing on this stretch of road.

Re:If getting drivers to slow down was the point.. (1)

Etherwalk (681268) | more than 6 years ago | (#22953778)

That only gets people to slow down momentarily, then they speed up slowly as soon as they're past you. When the cops want to slow down a road, they drive in the left lane (in drive-on-the-right countries) at whatever speed they don't want you to exceed. Since in most states (I don't know if it's true in all) you're not legally allowed to pass on the right, there's no way past them.

Re:If getting drivers to slow down was the point.. (1)

mcpkaaos (449561) | more than 6 years ago | (#22954174)

I can't speak for all states, but as far as I know passing on the right is legal on an open highway with two or more lanes traveling in the same direction. In San Diego, we pass anywhere there is room (including the shoulders).

The only other instance I'm aware of is when the driver in front of you is making a left turn.

Re:If getting drivers to slow down was the point.. (3, Informative)

shawn(at)fsu (447153) | more than 6 years ago | (#22954180)

My father who is a retired police officer was talking about driving 5 miles under the speed limit to mess with people, a lot of people will not pass a cop.

Re:If getting drivers to slow down was the point.. (1)

boris111 (837756) | more than 6 years ago | (#22954456)

No kidding... I've experienced this. Then you start second guessing if your speedometer is accurate enough to take that risk to pass him at the speed limit.

Re:If getting drivers to slow down was the point.. (1)

edbob (960004) | more than 6 years ago | (#22954192)

I don't think that that is the law in most of the U.S. I do prefer to pass on the left, though. We always seem to get slowpokes in the left lane here in Chicago. Usually, these people seem to be completely oblivious to their surroundings. I've tried to flash my lights and honk to get them to move over, but they usually don't move over. Actually, the law should make it illegal to be passed on the right under normal circumstances.

As for speed limits, they should be set to the maximum safe speed for the road. Drivers should then be able to make a reasoned determination of how fast they should go based on road conditions, the condition of the car, traffic, etc. That would free up the highway patrol to get people who are truly reckless and the dawdlers in the left lane.

Re:If getting drivers to slow down was the point.. (1)

Zadaz (950521) | more than 6 years ago | (#22954468)

Drivers should then be able to make a reasoned determination of how fast they should go based on road conditions, the condition of the car, traffic, etc.
I'm going to guess you're not in America where getting a license to drive is a right, not a privilege. I've been a fully licensed driver in the US since age 16 (22 years) and the only skills I've had to demonstrate is not being completely blind and able to get 70% or better on a 20 question multiple choice test. Once. 22 years ago.

Driver's training when I was a teen was a joke. We learned how to drive the back streets of a small town, honk at women and navigate a drive-through. We never even learned how to head-in park, much less parallel park or make a three point turn or not change lanes while eating a big mac and talking on the phone.

Thinking that we can make smart decisions about how fast is safe is giving us a lot of credit. Too much.

Re:If getting drivers to slow down was the point.. (3, Insightful)

Telvin_3d (855514) | more than 6 years ago | (#22953874)

I think catching the stupid and inattentive is kind of the point.

Yep, it's about attention, not speeding (1)

Sloppy (14984) | more than 6 years ago | (#22954444)

I agree. Every time I got a speeding ticket, I deserved it. Not because I was speeding, but because I got caught: I was daydreaming or whatever, and didn't see the cop in time. If I didn't see the cop in time, who knows what else I wasn't paying attention to?

When I'm properly alert (i.e. a safe driver, someone who isn't much of a danger to other peoples' safety), I don't get tickets. Yeah, under those circumstances, they could probably nail me for speeding anyway, by being stealthier or lasing me at a longer range. But (maybe I've just been lucky) it just hasn't happened.

Re:If getting drivers to slow down was the point.. (1)

Thelasko (1196535) | more than 6 years ago | (#22954098)

A patrol car in the median is more than enough to slow down all but the stupid or inattentive.
I've seen this on I-294 in Illinois. Most people just seem to ignore it.

Re:If getting drivers to slow down was the point.. (4, Interesting)

rolfwind (528248) | more than 6 years ago | (#22954276)

Speed is not the problem most of the time. America has notoriously low speed limits designed to make you the criminal when you drive normally (my state routinely has 55mph on highways where everybody goes about 72. Those who actually go 55 are in great danger from traffic). Last time I looked, it was safer to go 10mph above the limit than 10mph below.

It's just the easiest way to collect tickets. Point a radar gun, boom, and write ticket.

I see all kinds of more dangerous traffic infractions that almost no cop gives a damn about. Failure to use turn signals. Or this situation: you are on a normal two-lane two-way road at an intersection with a green light. You are at the forefront and want to make a left turn and the car opposite from you is in the same situation. There is a line of cars behind both of you. Most state laws would give the left-turners the right of way and both of you should be able to turn left simultaneously. What instead usually happens is that the cars behind you take to the shoulder (illegally in this case - going onto the shoulder is to avoid an obstacle, not traffic) and go around you, cutting the two turning left off from their right-of-way. This is where the law and (now) common practice collide.

Someone else mention the left lane as passing. It also recently became State law here that left was only to be used for passing and faster traffic. Not in practice. Most times I see some cas right next to each other neck and neck (and not even going fast) which leaves me wondering why the guy in the left lane even bothered going in the left lane... other than to block everyone else.

But cops sure do love keeping on writing the speeding tickets. I guess going slow negates the danger of not following any other rules:/

Re:If getting drivers to slow down was the point.. (3, Interesting)

_|()|\| (159991) | more than 6 years ago | (#22954418)

Bruce Schneier posted on this topic last week [schneier.com] :

Cities that have installed speed cameras are discovering motorists are driving slower, which is decreasing revenues from fines. So they're turning the cameras off.

False Positives? (5, Insightful)

HighWizard (91134) | more than 6 years ago | (#22953616)

I'm guessing this would allow me to make people slow down on my street by simply making them "think" there is a speed trap there. Not a terrible idea, if enough people use it. Though how many false positives will it take before confidence in the system is shot?

Re:False Positives? (3, Insightful)

transporter_ii (986545) | more than 6 years ago | (#22953784)

Just set up a limit to how many times someone can report something in a given amount of time. That way it would limit false positives. Also, if multiple people give a report, mod that alert up, as it is more likely to be a true report.

Re:False Positives? (3, Informative)

esocid (946821) | more than 6 years ago | (#22954308)

To discourage pranksters and law-enforcement officials from flooding the system with bogus locations, users can rate others on the accuracy of their contributions, and those getting better ratings will carry more weight.
TFA mentioned this method of weeding out the fake ones, plus I think it said speed traps are unlisted after 1 hour so they don't alert you if the cop has picked up and moved someplace else.
As an aside, when I submitted this the trapster website was pretty slow, and I'm pretty surprised it's holding up so far. Way to go.

Another way to avoid tickets (5, Insightful)

Nos. (179609) | more than 6 years ago | (#22953636)

Or you know, you could obey the speed limit, stop at red lights, etc. Seems to keep quite a few of us from getting tickets.

Re:Another way to avoid tickets (3, Insightful)

techpawn (969834) | more than 6 years ago | (#22953696)

Speeding tickets are like the lottery:
They're just a tax on the stupid who are inattentive and don't understand how numbers work.

Re:Another way to avoid tickets (3, Interesting)

EMeta (860558) | more than 6 years ago | (#22953942)

Or, at least in America, a tax on the poor. If you make $400k a year, you don't really care if you get 2 $75 tickets a year. There are some more enlightened countries that make the penalty proportional to income, which is both safer and fairer.

Re:Another way to avoid tickets (3, Informative)

MBCook (132727) | more than 6 years ago | (#22954002)

A tax is something you have to pay. It is entirely possible to drive, for years, without getting a single ticket. I've done it.

It's only a tax on the poor of those particular people can't drive. If that's the case, then I don't mind. The system should discourage those who can't drive from driving.

Should it be based on your income? That's fine with me. But don't call it a tax.

Re:Another way to avoid tickets (2, Insightful)

b96miata (620163) | more than 6 years ago | (#22954058)

Then why not just make it a damn tax and end the scapegoating? If every speed limit were set based on the natural speed of traffic, it might be reasonable to single people out for speeding, but I think everyone here can probably name at least one road near their house where the average speed is at least 10-15 mph over the limit and there's not a rash of fatal accidents. It's a back-door tax, without the negative political consequences of calling it one. I wish they'd just admit it and make it apply to everyone. I'd gladly pay an extra 1 or 2k a year if it meant I gained 20mph on the highway without having to worry about a shakedown.

Re:Another way to avoid tickets (1)

techpawn (969834) | more than 6 years ago | (#22954062)

Oh, I don't disagree with you. I've seen BMW whipping at 90+ MPH in a 50MPH zone thinking "if he gets ticketed, he won't care he can soak the cost" then again if he slams someone his insurance will go up and all the financial things that go along to penalize that.

Re:Another way to avoid tickets (2, Interesting)

Amouth (879122) | more than 6 years ago | (#22953794)

i obey the speed limit and stop ar red lights.. but i don't feel it is fair for them to change things on people just to extort money out of them.. and example is where i live.. in down town.. on the main road there is 8 lghts i have to go through each day. only 2 of them have red light cameras one near the middle and one at the end of the road. the lights are in sequence so that if you get stopped by one light and wait it out then the rest will be green for you if you are doing the speed limit. BUT the yellow lights on ONLY the two lights that have cameras are 3 seconds shorter than the rest. all the normal interchanges have very long yellows and the two that have cameras have yellows that are less than half the time of the others.

that to me is wrong.. because a driver has no warning that they have shortened the yellow light - it should be standard..

i know people are going to say "well when it turns yellow you stop - no problem" but the yellow is so short that it is an issue.. not all cars can go form 35-0 in 30-40 feet not all cars have ABS to assist.. and god forbid it when it is raining.

doing things like that is deciteful

Re:Another way to avoid tickets (4, Insightful)

techpawn (969834) | more than 6 years ago | (#22953994)

i know people are going to say "well when it turns yellow you stop - no problem" but the yellow is so short that it is an issue..
Maybe it was the way I was taught to drive... but...

If it's green when you see it, assume it will turn yellow at any time: prepare to stop.
If it's yellow when you see it, assume it will turn red: you should be stopping
If it is red when you see it, assume the idiots coming the other way will run the yellow or red. Wait a second after it turns green then Go.
Stopping is not a problem if you assume everyone else is going to be more stupid than you are. It's driving again...

Re:Another way to avoid tickets (1)

Smelly Jeffrey (583520) | more than 6 years ago | (#22954150)

According to the MUTCD [dot.gov] , "A yellow change interval should have a duration of approximately 3 to 6 seconds. The longer intervals should be reserved for use on approaches with higher speeds."

Re:Another way to avoid tickets (2, Interesting)

malkavian (9512) | more than 6 years ago | (#22954298)

As I had chats with the speed agencies recently, their rules and regulations about speed limits are a joke.
Over in the UK, the requirements are that there need to be 4 serious injuries within 1km of the spot, and that the 85th percentile of the speeds needs to be above the legal limit.

However, statistically, the 85th to 90th percentile are the safest drivers (who drive according to what the road and conditions support at the time).
And also, given any arbitrary 2km stretch of road, given time, there will probably be enough serious injuries within that point to justify a camera.
The worst part of it is the 85th percentile rule. Now, given in an area where the road does actually support someone travelling at, say, 36 in a 30 limit (there are loads of roads like that), it's encouraged that speed cameras are placed there, as the 85th percentile of traffic speed is above the legal limit.

Now, in places where the 85th (and 90th) percentile are BELOW the speed limit (i.e. in a good, measured opinion of a likely very safe driver, this road is DANGEROUS at the legal limit), it is actually illegal to place a speed camera in the area.

These rulings basically make a cash cow out of the camera scheme, in that they'll capture a lot of safe drivers, doing safe speeds on a road that will safely support them doing just that.
They won't actually capture many people driving dangerously fast.

I put that, along with other issues to the safety cam group face to face, and the representatives had to concede my points were entirely valid. Which basically turns their whole safety message on it's head.

Speed cameras are basically following the traditional "Health and Safety" mentality. Don't think for yourself. You can't judge for yourself. Do as we tell you without thinking, and everything will be alright.
The biggest threat on the roads is exactly that mentality. You need to be able to judge what the road will really take as safe, not just follow the signs and take that as gospel. Speed limits are arbitrary, and set up to make general control easier (and as a general guideline, I agree with them). But trying to take a generalisation, and force specific compliance in every case is a really dangerous (and stupid) move.

Re:Another way to avoid tickets (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22953900)

>Or you know, you could obey the speed limit, stop at red lights, etc. Seems to keep quite a few of us from getting tickets.

The same way Windows 98 never crashed for anyone, so long as they followed the rules: Reboot it when you come in to work, once each break, and once at lunch. And only run the company approved software + winamp on it. Always kept my windows from crashing.

The entire point of laws against speeding is to allow the stupid to use the roads. Great...

Re:Another way to avoid tickets (1)

jason.hall (640247) | more than 6 years ago | (#22953950)

Karma be damned...

Near my house is a section of roadway (a divided 4-lane) where the limit inexplicably drops from 55mph to 35mph for a half mile. Mind you, there are no curves, intersecting roads or any other "dangers." Guess where the cops set up to bust "speeders"?

There are those who simply don't happily comply with arbitrary rules when there is no logical reason for the rule, and I'm one of those people. If I'm rolling to a stop sign and can clearly see no oncoming cars (or the police), I'm going to roll right through. Why should I come to a stop? Because I feel like I'm doing my part to conform? Because I'm being told to do so? Because I'm only capable of checking for oncoming traffic at 0mph, rather than 3? I'm sure if the limit went from 55mph to 15 for no reason, there is a segment of the population who will gladly slow down to 15 with a smile on their face, simply because they are commanded to do so. Others, who prefer to think for themselves, check for cops and keep going.

Needless to say, speed traps have nothing to do with safety and everything to do with income.

Re:Another way to avoid tickets (2, Insightful)

dotmax (642602) | more than 6 years ago | (#22954190)

One reason to stop at stop signs is to promote the habit of stopping, reduce the amount of thinking necessary, and thus the possibility for mistakes, at stop signs. For example, If you get in a habit of rolling stopsigns, there's a decent probability that you're going to get seriously T-boned at a two-way stop some day. "Ya,but not if i" blah blah. People make mistakes. You will. GaraunEffngTeed. You really should cultivate good habits, even when nobody is looking. Good habits can buttress you against brain farts. Sorry, no flame, but your theory of driving is defective and dangerous.

Re:Another way to avoid tickets (1)

Rary (566291) | more than 6 years ago | (#22954312)

There are those who simply don't happily comply with arbitrary rules when there is no logical reason for the rule, and I'm one of those people.

Arbitrary rules like the inexplicable drop in speed limit you described or the shorter yellow light associated with red light cameras that others have pointed out are the exception, not the rule. I have no problem with you or anyone disregarding the rules in those cases. But, if you roll the dice, you take your chances. I have no sympathy for you if you get ticketed.

Needless to say, speed traps have nothing to do with safety and everything to do with income.
Actually, it's a bit of both. Reckless drivers are a legitimate concern, and the police should be doing something about it. I have no problem with them getting some funding from their efforts.

Re:Another way to avoid tickets (1)

Scudsucker (17617) | more than 6 years ago | (#22954464)

Arbitrary rules like the inexplicable drop in speed limit you described or the shorter yellow light associated with red light cameras that others have pointed out are the exception, not the rule.

But setting low limits and treating traffic enforcement as a source of revenue is the rule. There was a recent state supreme court ruling in my area that my city had traffic citations much greater than state law allows. The first thing the city complains about? Lost revenue. A few years ago Toronto police stopped writing petty traffic tickets as part of a labor dispute, as they weren't allowed to strike. There wasn't a rash of accidents as a consequence, but the city did lose $1.5 million per month as a result.

Re:Another way to avoid tickets (0)

Lumpy (12016) | more than 6 years ago | (#22953968)

And it gives us entertainment. nothing like watching the guy behind me wig out completely because I am doing the speed limit.

nothing is more funny than some ass going nuts behind me because I am doing 35 in a 35 zone. I'll even stop at yellow lights if they decide that tailgaiting might make me faster. I love the control over them I have.

Re:Another way to avoid tickets (0, Flamebait)

Scudsucker (17617) | more than 6 years ago | (#22954356)

When a Hummer rear ends you at 30 mph over the speed limit, I hope a video makes it onto Youtube.

Re:Another way to avoid tickets (3, Insightful)

scubamage (727538) | more than 6 years ago | (#22954206)

I got a 400$ ticket by driving on a road in northern pennsylvania at the posted speed limit. Apparently there had at one time been a speed sign posting that the speed limit dropped by 20 miles per hour (from 55 to 35). However the only sign which was posted had recently been destroyed in an accident. I took photos of the sign. However to protest the ticket would have cost me 75$ in court fees just to protest, a day of lost wages, plus the cost to drive all the way up there and back. In the end, it was cheaper just to take the ticket.
Obeying the speed limit only works if the police play by the rules, and sadly they don't always like doing that... as Rodney King, or any number of the thousands of police corruption cases on the books can tell you. Why else do you think you're more likely to get pulled over if you're from out of state? You have almost no chance to contest because its almost always cheaper to just accept the ticket - especially if you're from a far distance. This is done on purpose (as a District Attorney told me).

or just ticket dangerous driving instead? (1)

Scudsucker (17617) | more than 6 years ago | (#22954272)

Exceeding the speed limit != dangerous driving. Most police work is either revenue generation (writing traffic tickets) or enforcing draconian drug laws in the War on Drugs, or as I like to call it, Prohibition 2.0. Legalizing drugs and setting reasonable speed limits would free cops to go after real crimes and do wonders for cop/citizen relations.

But why be reasonable when you can be a revenue generating sheep instead?

Re:Another way to avoid tickets (3, Informative)

peipas (809350) | more than 6 years ago | (#22954368)

It is commonly the case that exceeding the speed limit is safer than steadfastly obeying it regardless of traffic conditions. But this kind of enforcement isn't about safety, it is about revenue.

For example, note this article [caranddriver.com] from Car and Driver magazine that outlines how fatalities remained static and even went down in some states after the national speed limit was lifted in 1995 and states began raising speed limits, yet authorities claimed they had gone up by not including all of the data. From the article:

According to the Cato study, in the states in which the IIHS says that highway deaths increased after the speed limits went up, the overall deaths were un-changed. Therefore, on the roads that were not affected by the increased speed limits, the number of traffic fatalities must have decreased by a similar amount.

This is exactly what one would expect, because the highways with the higher speed limits attract drivers from slower roads. More drivers on the highways mean more accidents and fatalities on the highways, but fewer drivers and fatalities on other roads. Charles Lave, an economics professor at the University of California-Irvine, examined this phenomenon in a study in 1989. He also found that raising highway speed limits allowed police to spend less of their time writing speeding tickets and more time apprehending drunk drivers and patrolling dangerous roads.

Re:Another way to avoid tickets (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22954378)

I wish.

I live on a busy road and folks insist on doing 15mph+ over the speed limit. They'll tailgate and sometimes rear end us. They honk and go dip-shit if I actually slow down to turn. Some even pass in the on coming lane. There's no excuse for that behavior. I actually WANT a speed trap on my road - it's the only time folks drive reasonable on my street.

Re:Another way to avoid tickets (1)

ClubStew (113954) | more than 6 years ago | (#22954380)

...and don't use this service. You're worse than a drunk driver when talking or texting on your cell phone. Obeying the traffic laws all around will help you avoid tickets.

The obvious questions (1)

timeOday (582209) | more than 6 years ago | (#22953650)

I don't think the idea for this general type of service is anything new. Success will hinge on how well they maintain the integrity of the data. If there's nothing to stop the police or anti-speeding vigilantes from putting in thousands of false alarms, it will fail. If the data is all out of date or coverage is so spotty you can't rely on it, it will fail.

OT: laws banning non-hands-free cells (4, Insightful)

davidwr (791652) | more than 6 years ago | (#22953680)

I don't know about you but it takes more mental effort to carry on a conversation than to dial a phone or hold it up to my ear. The latter two are practically robotic to me by now.

Rather than banning certain activities like shaving, talking on a cell, fiddling with the radio, or tending to unruly children, train new drivers on how to drive with common every-day distractions, train them to use common sense in minimizing distractions in unfamiliar environments, and if they get in a wreck and a distraction is one of the factors, let that affect who is deemed "at fault."

Re:OT: laws banning non-hands-free cells (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22954262)

Um, no. Train them to dive a car and keep both hands on the wheel, and eyes on the road.

Sigh (0, Offtopic)

fm6 (162816) | more than 6 years ago | (#22953686)

I am so not participating in this discussion. When folks defend their god-given right to drive like idiots, all rational thought flies out the window, and all discussions turn into flamefests.

Re:Sigh (4, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22953862)

I am so not participating in this discussion.

Apparently, you are.

Re:Sigh (0, Troll)

spun (1352) | more than 6 years ago | (#22953962)

You are so right, I've seen this over and over in this type of discussion. It becomes a flamefest between selfish assholes defending their God-given right to be selfish assholes, and the rest of us, who are so irate from having to deal with these idiots every commute that we can't think clearly about the topic.

Here's a thought: how about all you selfish pricks shut the hell up and start driving as if there were other people on the road?

Re:Sigh (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22954012)

I know there are other people on my road, and I drive appropriately - as long as they STAY BEHIND ME or otherwise OUT OF MY WAY then it's cool.

Re:Sigh (1)

Lumpy (12016) | more than 6 years ago | (#22954010)

That's ok it's the same idiots that spend $49.95 on a can of hair spray that they think makes photo radar not see their plate.

Re:Sigh (2, Insightful)

puff3456 (898964) | more than 6 years ago | (#22954146)

There is a considerable difference between driving like an idiot, i.e. recklessly, and driving fast, i.e. above the speed limit when conditions allow. Making the argument to drive faster is not irrational given one is driving safely.

However, it could be considered ... (2, Insightful)

BigGar' (411008) | more than 6 years ago | (#22953694)

sending a text message, however brief, and it is not hand free and thus may fall under the guidelines of some of the laws that are on the books or proposed.
Especially if you get someone who has some cell phone activity right before an accident.

minimum subscriber base? (2, Insightful)

corgan517 (1040154) | more than 6 years ago | (#22953726)

I wonder what the minimum number of people using the service in a given area would be in order for this to be much help. If a cop sits in a specific place for only a few hours, there are only so many drivers going by, and at least one person before you would have to see it and report it for you to get any benefit. I'm sure in larger metropolitan areas and high volume interstates, it will come more quickly, but what about state highways and local roads?

Prior art - not that it matters (2, Informative)

transporter_ii (986545) | more than 6 years ago | (#22953736)

But I posted on about an almost identical system, which I called "copwatch" here on Slashdot, about a year ago...and it was something I 100% thought out on my own. Pretty cool someone did it.

http://slashdot.org/comments.pl?sid=227045&cid=18394299

March 18 2007

Basically, it uses the same principle, but every time you see a traffic cop, you press a button somewhere in your car. Your car, with the use of a GPS, then beacons the location of the police car. Other cars then repeat the beacon, which does have a TTL value on it as well.

To prevent false positives, there is a limit to how many reports someone could generate in a set time period, and multiple reports in the same area could mod the threat up.

This would all be happening pretty transparently to everyone, unless they were within a set distance of an active alert, at which point they would be alerted to the danger.

Not reliable enough (4, Funny)

markov_chain (202465) | more than 6 years ago | (#22953750)

Maybe troopers will start to hide around halfway between towers now ;)

- *flashing lights*
- Guy gets pulled over
- "license and registration please"
- cell phone beeps "speed trap ahead"
- "Oh what have we got here?"

illegal? (1)

Brit_in_the_USA (936704) | more than 6 years ago | (#22953766)

Would this be classed as "interfering with a police investigation(s)" ?

Re:illegal? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22953944)

In some jurisdictions, yes. Just like you can be charged for flashing your headlights in some places. I don't agree with it but it is considered by some police/courts to be obstruction of justice.

Re:illegal? (1)

OutSourcingIsTreason (734571) | more than 6 years ago | (#22954164)

It shouldn't be. Flashing your lights for the benefit of oncoming cars is considered protected free speech, and IANAL but this seems to me like the same idea.

Re:illegal? (1)

puff3456 (898964) | more than 6 years ago | (#22954212)

I believe it would be called "free speech."

Re:illegal? (1)

TooMuchToDo (882796) | more than 6 years ago | (#22954454)

I doubt it, as freedom of speech would trump it (there was a similar case arguing that flashing headlights to warn of upcoming law enforcement was protected speech; the court ruled it was).

GPS (1)

LeoDavinci578 (795523) | more than 6 years ago | (#22953808)

It would be nice if there was some way to add this to GPS devices. I'd rather not have to take my phone out when I already have a nice big GPS unit sitting right in my car.

I realize there probably isn't any sort of standardization for a plugin for GPS units, but it would be nice.

Why not total integration? (1)

doggod (1081287) | more than 6 years ago | (#22954032)

Radar detector reports to GPS reports to cell phone reports to website. All hands-free and completely without driver participation or distraction.

Re:GPS (1)

kannibal_klown (531544) | more than 6 years ago | (#22954114)

Well, not a standard plugin per-se. But some GPS units are compatible with traffic systems like XM Traffic. I have one in mine and it's pretty useful if I have a long drive and I have to re-route around traffic. It shows you the location of accidents, the start of construction, and how congested a stretch of highway is.

So I'd imagine that XM could simply put a traffic icon there that looks like a policecar, though that would still take a software update.

Re:GPS (3, Informative)

Kasis (918962) | more than 6 years ago | (#22954160)

My satnav (Tomtom running on a Windows Mobile PDA) can be updated to include speed camera and other information from http://www.pocketgpsworld.com./ [www.pocketgpsworld.com]

I think that's a lot safer because in this part of the world you can be penalised quite severely for touching your mobile phone while driving. Additionally the gps has a much more accurate idea of my position and is aware of my actual speed and the limit in force on my particular stretch of road.

The databases I use are - static speed cameras, regular locations of mobile speed cameras, average speed cameras, and stoplight cameras. Each type of threat is alerted by a different sound effect and a visual reminder of the speed limit.

I feel that using SMS is a solution to a problem which doesn't exist, especially since phones are increasingly coming with built-in gps receivers.

I'm disappointed (1)

Khyber (864651) | more than 6 years ago | (#22953920)

no 'itsatrap' tag yet for the most obvious story to get one. Slashdotters are slipping.

It works both ways. (2, Insightful)

ATestR (1060586) | more than 6 years ago | (#22953940)

Police officials that Tenereillo has talked to haven't complained about the service because it inevitably encourages drivers to slow down.

So all the cops have to do to slow traffic down city wide would be two periodically send a car around with an officer punching #1 into his cellphone at many locations. This way users would know that there are speed traps EVERYWHERE.

i agree, this is kewl (1)

dotmax (642602) | more than 6 years ago | (#22953956)

i hereby take back all the GPS hating i posted in the recent iphone thread. I was wrong. this is cool and a genuine value.

What were they thinking? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22954026)

...which requires punching in a few keys such as '#1' to submit information to Trapster's database, should comply with laws banning talking on cell phones.
WTF? Isnt texting while driving more dangerous than talking??? At least you dont take ur eyes off the road while talking! I am seeing a traffic pile up where all the drivers going past the speedtrap were busy texting to this website to "save" the drivers behind them.

Re:What were they thinking? (1)

gnick (1211984) | more than 6 years ago | (#22954436)

WTF? Isnt texting while driving more dangerous than talking???
Perhaps I'm exceptionally gifted but, thanks to my amazing dexterity and ability to multi-task, I believe that I could punch '#1' without taking my eyes off the road...

Could This Be DoneTo Warn Residents (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22954076)


about Corrupt Politicians [whitehouse.org] ?

threats to ticket-free driving. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22954084)

The only "threat to ticket-free driving" is breaking the law.

My scary thoughts. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22954096)

I have an iPhone, without GPS but it does have 'location' capability. This can go two ways.

My scary thought is - the Government and the phone companies (might as well be Government) and Apple know where I am, always.

Not only can they listen into my communications (text and voice and voicemail) but they can effectively know where I am anytime my phone is on.

I don't want to live in a world without instant communication as I see it as a blessing and Godsend but I don't want to live in a world, where many are hostile to my faith and practices (inside and outside the Government), which allows them to know where I am and with whom I communicate.

Arms Race (3, Funny)

Thelasko (1196535) | more than 6 years ago | (#22954288)

I wonder what the cops will come up with the counter this technology. Sure, some departments just want you to slow down, but others just want your money.

My friend just bought a shiny new radar detector. Radar detectors are illegal in some places and the cops can find out if your using one with a radar detector detector. My friend's new radar detector prevents that from happening because it has a radar detector detector detector that shuts off the radar detector if it detects a radar detector detector.

Seriously, this arms race has to stop! I'm sick of using the word detector!

The police may not have a problem but (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22954292)

I know who will..... the asshole politicians and bureaucrats who depend on traps and cameras to pad their revenue streams.

Individual officers may not mind but... (2, Insightful)

thedigitalbean (268010) | more than 6 years ago | (#22954336)

The city and police as an organization probably would. Speed traps have nothing to do with enforcing the law and everything to do with revenue generation. If this gets in the way of their revenue generation, you can bet they will try to find a way to make it illegal.

Speed Cameras (1)

NaNO2x (856759) | more than 6 years ago | (#22954472)

My state just passed a law allowing the use of speed cameras to catch speeders and I had been contemplating a site that reports on their locations. The types of cameras that I've seen used around the city are not mobile so having these locations down would be more helpful than speed traps which tend to vary day by day.

Personally I am fine with police sitting out waiting for speeders because if you are attentive enough then you obviously aren't being a danger to the road. However, the cameras that are hard to spot are things I would prefer to just avoid all together.

The idea of signals being sent and recieved through the cellphone is an idea I disagree with as well. Having a mode perhaps on the cell that acted something like a nearness detector that would beep as you neared a point or something. But the idea of moving your attention away from driving is in fact making it less safe to drive.

One last note, the idea of a simple Google Maps integrated site is a great idea for this sort of thing. The real problem with these sorts of projects however is the need of active participation to get anywhere. A way to get some people out perhaps would be to schedule certain days where a few people get together and fan out for a few hours. Solve the problem of getting the info and a project like this would really take off.
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