Is It Okay To Support The Trapster Mobile Service? [Opinion]

trapster logo   Is It Okay To Support The Trapster Mobile Service? [Opinion]The Trapster mobile service is a free, road-awareness app for smartphones and navigation systems that allows users to warn and be warned about accidents, speed cameras and waiting police cars. In essence, it’s the crowd-sourced equivalent of flashing your lights at another driver to warn them of something on the road ahead.

In addition to dangerous junctions, slow moving traffic and other everyday highway annoyances, Trapster warns users about known police speed traps and even notorious hiding spots used by traffic cops to catch speeding motorists unawares.

So, is it OK to be one step ahead of the game with the Trapster mobile service?

Yes

I can probably stop writing now, right?

Using Trapster is not wrong, and nor should you feel bad for doing so. Do the police feel bad for putting speed cameras up on the side of the roads? Of course not, they make quite a lot of money from speed cameras after all – it’s one permanent cop, with a speed gun, who never needs to be paid. This perma-cop also catches other drivers speeding 24 hours a day and fines them for doing so.

platforms   Is It Okay To Support The Trapster Mobile Service? [Opinion]

Using a service like Trapster goes some way toward levelling the playing field, and its use might even result in drivers with a better awareness of their surroundings and hazards. Before we dive any further into this minefield of a subject though, it must be said that speed kills and the best way to be a safer driver is to kill your speed.

Slow Down

It’s important to consider why speed cameras and hidden police with speed guns are considered necessary by law enforcement. Clearly, the driving public speeds too much, and cameras are a more economically viable way of deterring speed and warming brake pads, right?

   Is It Okay To Support The Trapster Mobile Service? [Opinion]

If the police really believe this train of thought – that speed cameras and traps are designed to slow you down – then surely they’d be embracing services that encourage this behaviour, like Trapster. When you approach a known trap, be it a permanent camera or a waiting traffic officer, Trapster will attempt to alert you.

If speed cameras are designed to have this effect anyway, then Trapster is an aid to the system. Where I grew up (the UK), each week the police would print the location and operating times of their mobile traffic cameras and hidden cops-with-guns in the local paper. I fail to see how Trapster is any different to this, albeit with more 21st century charm.

It’s Free

Like many crowd-sourced services, Trapster is free. It’s free to download, free to use and anyone can play their part by submitting reports and voting on other people’s reports. There is not a great deal of money to be made here, as the guys behind Trapster haven’t done much to monetize the service. This is a good thing.

big map   Is It Okay To Support The Trapster Mobile Service? [Opinion]

This is in stark contrast to a company like Road Angel, which sells products designed to alert drivers of speed limit changes, cameras and mobile traps. They also have a subscription model, and claim that the subscription is paramount to keeping your database of warnings up to date.

While there’s nothing wrong with using a Road Angel either, there’s a lot of money involved. The company is making money by selling a device designed to make you a safer driver. Trapster is at least free and cooperative – everyone benefits from your report, your vote and nobody’s tied-in to a subscription model.

Become A Better Driver?

One thing that Trapster has allowed for in addition to warning of speed traps and police stops are the many other types of alerts and icons that show up on the map.

map incident   Is It Okay To Support The Trapster Mobile Service? [Opinion]

The service also includes alerts for the following:

  • School zone – permanent, static warnings
  • Children at play – spot a game of football in the street? Help avoid an accident by reporting it (expires after 1 hour)
  • Road hazard – strong winds brought down a few branches? Let other Trapster users know (expires after 1 hour)
  • Car accident – expires after 2 hours.
  • Dangerous curve – permanent warnings of hazardous bends
  • Brush fire – expires 6 hours after last report

This is just a selection of the different alerts and others include warnings for floods, road kill or closed roads. Imagine if all cars were notifying drivers of similar dangers on the road ahead, though I’m sure that’s coming to a future near you soon.

Conclusion

This is why I believe using driving aids like the Trapster mobile service to warn you of upcoming hazards isn’t a bad thing. I’m especially impressed with Trapster as its free, relies on crowd-sourcing and is available on a large range of devices. Just don’t go submitting reports and fiddling with your smartphone or GPS unit while driving – that’s just common sense.

What do you think of Trapster? Do you use it? Do you think it’s right or wrong that motorists can be warned of speed traps? Have your say in the comments, below this article.

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6 Comments -

Fred Schechter

I use waze.com, it has the same sort of functionality (better I think as it’s navigation, and social traffic crowdsourced). It has made driving more interesting for me on my daily 125 mile round trip commute and love the app!

Tim Brookes

I have also seen Waze, in fact it’s on my iPhone right now. It looks like a good service, and from what I’ve seen the app is pretty good. It does lag a bit on my iPhone 4 and the other thing is I think Trapster has a larger community of users, at least in my region, so there were more reports on Trapster than there were on Waze (the last time I looked).

Edward Brey

Tim, you missed one important advantage of keeping enforcement points secret, which is to encourage safe driving at all times. You wrote, “If the police really believe this train of thought – that speed cameras and traps are designed to slow you down – then surely they’d be embracing services that encourage this behaviour.” Let’s see if this is really true. The police want you to drive safely all the time. If there is nearly 100% enforcement, then yes, they would want drivers to know about it, because it would remind them to check their speeds constantly.

What you’ve overlooked is that if enforcement is sparse and drivers are reliably made aware of the vast unenforced stretches of road, their sinful nature will tempt them to drive unsafely. [Insert your own accident statistic here – we’ve all heard them.]

That’s where your rationalization falls short. It overlooks drivers’ temptation to be unsafe when they know no one is watching. Care to reevaluate?

Tim Brookes

I stick by my guns. Driving is a personal responsibility, if you want to drive you should constantly be checking your speed, state of your vehicle, driving habits and so on because you’re essentially piloting a deadly weapon that could kill you or someone else. No app or navigation unit changes this!

These warning services – Trapster, Road Angel et al – aren’t the gospel, and they won’t always get it right. Drivers should be aware of this, and as you point out shouldn’t assume that stretch of road with no speed cameras isn’t regularly patrolled by marked or unmarked police.

I don’t believe that all drivers have a “sinful nature” when they think nobody is watching, though I know some do. Personally I’m concerned about getting from A-to-B safely above all else, and I’d like to have faith that the majority of drivers feel this way too.

Edward Brey

It’s important to draw a distinction between Trapster, which only alerts you of enforcement (a tiny fraction of drive time), and Road Angel, which alerts you of excessive speed any time. Neither service is perfect, but it’s a probability game, and it’s naive to think there aren’t plenty of people willing to be unsafe on the stretches of road that are unlikely to have enforcement.

I agree that many drivers put a priority on safety, and for them the larger temptations of life may lay outside the lure of speeding. The Bible truth is they still do have a sinful nature, though, just as everyone does (Galatians 5:17). Some people want to believe that man is fundamentally good rather than sinful, but that’s just replacing Christian apologetics with wishful thinking. Niche tried, and it didn’t get him any further than communism.

John Ross

That is if your assumption that the point of speed traps and traffic cams is to increase safety. However its more likely that the point of speed traps and traffic cams is to increase $$$$ for the Police Depts.