DC Police Chief Says It's 'Cowardly' To Monitor Speed Traps With Your iPhone

from the real-men-prefer-ignorance dept

Jeff Nolan points us to the news that Washington DC’s police chief is denouncing users of an iPhone app to monitor speed traps/speed cameras/red light cameras as being “cowardly.” Apparently, real men prefer ignorance about where the police are hiding to give them tickets for driving a couple miles per hour over the speed limit. The app actually sounds pretty useful, alerting users if they’re near one of the cameras or a known speed trap. The creator of the software makes the most salient point:

“If police come against us, it’s going to make them look like they are only [after] revenue”

Indeed. Shouldn’t the police be happy that a software product is helping people slow down or avoid running red lights? How could that possibly be seen as a bad thing… or “cowardly”?

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Comments on “DC Police Chief Says It's 'Cowardly' To Monitor Speed Traps With Your iPhone”

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117 Comments
Joerg says:

Re: Wouldn't that be a great app?

An app like this is mostly in ALL Navigation devices, TomTom Garmin, you name it. If not when the device does over the counter, but trust me at least a week later it is on. On ANY Nav in Cars and even on Motorbikes.

It is so common in Europe, that some countries changed the law and can even seize the Navigator device if the police finds out.

On the other hand, with all the beeping of an speed trap in proximity the driver is usually driving slower than bevor, which is good, cause then they are not slamming in there brakes when (if) they see the trap.

And running red lights is something of the past, at least at these lights which are in the Navigators Database.

So whats the fuss about it. It is good to have it. Period.

Dark Helmet (profile) says:

Okay

“Shouldn’t the police be happy that a software product is helping people slow down or avoid running red lights?”

The police, yes, they probably are happy. The government beuracracy that operates to run the police, no. The Police Officers Union, no. The area politicians, DA, etc., no.

Please stop confusing the police chief with the police. They aren’t even close to being the same thing. The chief has to report directly to elected officials and also has to deal with the police union.

The elected officials, from the Mayor to the DA, needs crimes to respond to. Otherwise, what do they point to as a “win”? If there is no crises to manage, what is their purpose? If Washington DC was a utopia, would there be the need for these elected officials? No. They don’t want to stop crime, they want to keep it at a controllable level.

The union operates from a position of power, the level of which has a direct correlation to the number of officers in the union. Stop crime? Demand for officers goes down, union dues go down, the number of union employees goes down, control diminishes. Why in the world would THEY want crime to go down?

If anyone can give me one logical reason why the government, police chief, and police union bosses wouldn’t LOVE a police state, I’d love to hear it.

btr1701 (profile) says:

Re: Re: Okay

> Oh please… most officers I’ve interacted
> with forgot the “to protect and to serve” thing
> looooooooong ago.

Maybe the reason for that is that the phrase “protect and serve” is just the motto of the LAPD and not law enforcement in general.

Most citizen I’ve interacted with have become so Hollywoodized that they think every cop everywhere takes an oath to protect and serve the public.

My oath said nothing of the sort. I swore to protect and defend the Constitution of the United States. The public isn’t even mentioned.

Irritated says:

Re: Okay

You are saying what purpose do the police have if they are not handing out tickets. Well, turn on the news. I don’t see reports on speeders. I see killings and drugs. Let us continue to worry about speeding tickets and penalizing hard working Americans. It’s a bunch of crap if you ask me.

Dark Helmet (profile) says:

Re: Re: Okay

“You are saying what purpose do the police have if they are not handing out tickets. Well, turn on the news. I don’t see reports on speeders. I see killings and drugs.”

Tightining government control through a state of fear much?

Okay, you probably won’t read this, but some quick analysis on the homicides, because I couldn’t care less about the mostly victimless crime of drug use.

-Approx. 14000 homicides in the USA in 2008, including Puerto Rico
-That’s 38 people murdered per day, including 1st/2nd degrees, and negligent
-34 Cities in the USA with over 500k people, and 107 cities in the USA with over 200k people
-There are 307 million people in the country total
-That’s an annual inclusive homicide rate of 4.56 e5….or TINY, in other words
-It’s also .35 murders per day per city with a poulation of over 200k

The point is that the homicide rate in this country is infintismal when compared to how it is presented on the news. You aren’t going to die. The gangbangers down the street really don’t care all that much about you. People in general aren’t homicidal and/or crazy. Get OVER it, we don’t need the number of police we employ.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Okay

Did I get you right? Crime is essentially an industry and police departments depend on crime to bolster their budgets?
This makes sense since if crime were to drop significantly, so would the budgets. hummm…….

Well, yes, except there’s a growing trend to outsource incarcerations to companies outside of the legal and justice system.

Research CCA (NYSE:CXW) and The Geo Group (NYSE:GGI). Here’s a link to get you started on you’re search:
http://rawstory.com/news/afp/Crime_pays_for_US_prison_companies_03092008.html

Point is, stock valuation of these two examples is tied to the number of people incarcerated.

Joe says:

No sympathy on this one from me. If the police are using it as a revenue generation tool, dinging people for going slightly over the limit, that’s one thing, but this app indiscriminately allows people to drive much greater than the speed limit and avoid any consequence. That’s hardly right either.

The goal of the law is to enforce safe driving, if either side moves away from that goal, for profit or reckless fun, they are in the wrong.

IMO anything less than 15kph over the limit should get a warning, not a ticket. More than that, and there should be a stiff fine.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

But the app doesn’t tell you where the police AREN’T. It doesn’t say “there are no police in the area” … it simply says “you are approaching a known speed trap/red light camera/speed camera”. It also doesn’t say “there is an officer ahead” … but just that it’s a known spot, and a cop is more likely to be there. Speed traps aren’t manned 24/7.

There is nothing stopping the police from:

(1) not using the same spots for speed traps … they can move their traps around and create a giant grid of known “traps” where a giant coverage area would be created in the app. Anyone looking to find dead spots of speed traps would instead find that they are continuously hitting known speed trap areas, whether or not there is a cop there. I already knew of spots around Denver where police commonly camp out, and those are reported in the app … police here pick the same spots and put a man or two there almost daily for a couple hours.

(2) having police actually travel around and give out speeding tickets outside of a speed trap. If they aren’t stationary, there’s no way to pinpoint a speed trap spot.

So, it does not indiscriminately allow anyone to do anything. It actually gives LESS information than a radar/laser detector, which will indiscriminately tell one if a cop is actively looking at speed, at any point. This app only says “cops are known to sit up ahead and tag people” … not if a cop is there, or a cop is in a non-speed trap area monitoring.

And with red light cameras, it changes nothing for people, because if there was no camera, then it’s the possibility of a cop hiding that may keep people in check, and this app doesn’t say “there are no cops at this intersection” … merely “a stop light camera is known to exist at the intersection ahead” … so it will only tell people when they should be more diligent about stopping, and gives no new information one way or another about regular intersections. The risk of cop awareness is identical.

So, this app only tells people when to slow down or stop. This app does not indiscriminately allow people to drive much greater than the speed limit … it’s an app on a phone, not a super-jet engine.

CHIEFOFROADRAGE says:

Re: Re:

The limit is about 9 MPH to you?

Sir, the vigilante group that is the Citizen’s Road Justice of America would like to inform you that people driving less than 10 MPH over the speed limit are punished to the fullest extent of the whims of the organization. Be it tailgating, paint swapping, keying, verbal flogging, bird flipping, general abuse committed with a baseball bat, or even stalking for the effect of fear or for the actual shootout.

We request that your old lady pussy driving attitude stay in whatever country you are from and counter your suggestion with a better one saying that speed limits should be raised 10 MPH or 18 KmPH and then given an additional 5 or so to each of “you get off with a warning” room.

Joe says:

Re: Re: Re:

We request that your old lady pussy driving attitude stay in whatever country you are from and counter your suggestion with a better one saying that speed limits should be raised 10 MPH or 18 KmPH and then given an additional 5 or so to each of “you get off with a warning” room.

I think a few people have mentioned this and it’s actually an interesting point. Both with income and speed limits, people tend to acclimate to the new levels. Remember when you were a kid and made 20 grand a year. If I said, starting tomorrow you’ll make 30 grand a year. You would think – fantastic – all my money worries are over and I’ll be happy. But soon you get used to that pay level and think – if I made 40 a year, then I’ll be truly happy.

I think in many ways this is true with speed limits also, though there is certainly an upper limit to this. Raising the speed limit 10-15kph won’t eliminate speeding. People will simply acclimate to the new level.

Where I live, the speed limit is about 110kph but the fast lane routinely goes at 140kph (roughly 70/85mph I think). The higher speeds are tolerated because the flow of traffic moves well and people can get to where their going safely. If someone zips around at 160kph – they get pulled over pretty fast. This works because it is based not on grabbing revenue for the city or giving drivers a get out of jail free card for speeding but because the city can operate smoothly with it.

Nice rant by the way :->

JM says:

Re: Re:

…but this app indiscriminately allows people to drive much greater than the speed limit and avoid any consequence.

The app does nothing of the sort. That logic could be applied just about anything and is just plain ignorant. Perhaps we should blame Halloween costume manufacturers because they indiscriminately allow people to hide their true identity giving them the ability to commit a crime and avoid any consequence.

The app performs a function. That function is not to blame for how people behave. If someone is going to break the law they’re going to do it regardless. Blaming the functionality of the app or the manufacturer for how it is used is absolutely silly.

I really wish people would learn that it’s PEOPLE who are responsible for their actions and not their devices: people kill people not guns. This is pretty basic stuff folks.

lordmorgul says:

Re: Re:

Don’t be stupid. The app does not allow people to drive FASTER, it allows them to know where to drive slower. These are not even remotely the same thing. At any location on any street at ANY time of day a police officer could see you traveling above the speed limit. Knowing an officer is at point A does not mean one is not at point B, it only reduces the likelihood marginally. A risk taker does not change their behavior based on marginal change in risk…

They choose to set speed traps for three reasons only: 1) high revenue on streets people ‘feel safe’ speeding on, 2) legitimate effort to increase safety (although misguided, see below), and 3) specific event or high profile purpose (keep traffic smooth near mayor speaking event, etc).

Speed traps are simply dangerous in some locations because they do not just get people to slow down, they cause ERRATIC driving as people try to change lanes and slow down rapidly.

The way police should be keeping traffic speeds down is by consistent show of presence… by actually driving around and being seen by the public at many locations in the city. This is costly, and does not provide revenue but would keep the citizens safer.

Alan Shore says:

If memory serves me right, I believe there was a case somewhere, in which a police officer didn’t have their parking lights on, and the defendant believed that the police officer’s turn signals were stationary reflectors on the side of the road.

Again, I can’t remember the details as the case occurred several years ago, but nonetheless, I vaguely remember that they either hit the police officer’s car.

In any case, this “cowardly” officer of the law was found guilty of “entrapment”, and the local jurisdiction was found responsible for damages to the defendant’s vehicle, damages resulting from unlawful arrest, and false testimony in a court of law.

It was an interesting read, I just wish I could find it.

Alan Shore says:

About that "Coward" thing...

If memory serves me right, I believe there was a case somewhere, in which a police officer had a speed trap and also didn’t have their parking lights on. The defendant believed that the police officer’s turn signals were stationary reflectors on the side of the road.

Again, I can’t remember the details as the case occurred several years ago, but nonetheless, I vaguely remember that they either hit the police officer’s car.

In any case, this “cowardly” officer of the law was found guilty of “entrapment”, and the local jurisdiction was found responsible for damages to the defendant’s vehicle, damages resulting from unlawful arrest, pain and suffering as well as false testimony in a court of law.

It was an interesting read, I just wish I could find it.

Lohocla says:

Re: Weird

Find it odd that even my little Cavlier RS (4 cyl) will get to 110 mph (I know, I’ve had it that fast :))

If they were interested in making the roads safer they’d force automakers to stop building cars that exceed the speed limit and make it illegal for anyone to modify their rides to do so.

So, no, dont think they care about making things safer, just using it as a revenue stream so that they (politico’s) can pocket some more change or in the case of the south, send ppl to jail and get $$ per head like cattle .:)

Loh

Michael Laukaitis says:

If Cops were smart

If cops were really smart… they would download the app, I’m guessing it’s based off of people entering in speed traps and places where they have either seen speed traps etc… then as police, they should enter in a ton more than what are really there… Then everyone would drive slow all the time… Really! Find an exploit and go to town! Dear Cops…. You’re welcome.

Derek Kerton (profile) says:

Re: If Cops were smart

If cops were really smart… they would also know that (with Phantomalert) each user has a reliability score, and each entry requires validation from more than one user to be accepted. Post bogus data, and your posts stop counting.

And U don’t need to download the app. Just go to the website.

Back to the drawing board.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: If Cops were smart

You’re assuming this isn’t dynamic. Which it is.

Ever heard people flashing their headlights to tell oncoming drivers about a cop ahead on the road? That’s what this app is. Except it tells a lot more people. If the cops move half-a-mile down the road, someone will report that, and (assumedly) the app would reflect the change.

Derek Kerton (profile) says:

Re: Re:

You’re right. If there’s anything cowardly, it’s the use of machines to deliver justice.

Speed cameras and red light cameras remove the ability of the accused to “face their accuser”. A right we have had in America up to this point. You could always go to court to argue against the officer that issued your ticket. Not so with camera enforcement. You can’t demand to see the person who accuses you, because it is a machine.

The “cowardly” fundraisers in muni governments have slipped the cameras tickets through the “face your accuser” requirements by calling the violation a civil offense, not a moving violation. Thus the tickets are more like parking bylaw tickets than speeding or red light tickets issued by a cop.

If camera-based justice doesn’t scare you, then you didn’t understand Orwell’s 1984.

known coward says:

Re: Re: Re:

I agree It is cowardly to use a machine to do a Man’s job, remember our right to confront our accuser.

“You’re right. If there’s anything cowardly, it’s the use of machines to deliver justice.

Speed cameras and red light cameras remove the ability of the accused to “face their accuser”. A right we have had in America up to this point. You could always go to court to argue against the officer that issued your ticket. Not so with camera enforcement. You can’t demand to see the person who accuses you, because it is a machine.

The “cowardly” fundraisers in muni governments have slipped the cameras tickets through the “face your accuser” requirements by calling the violation a civil offense, not a moving violation. Thus the tickets are more like parking bylaw tickets than speeding or red light tickets issued by a cop.

If camera-based justice doesn’t scare you, then you didn’t understand Orwell’s 1984. “

Glaze (profile) says:

Re: Raise the speed limit

Proven case, this does not work. MN changed the majority of its speed limits when the federal law changed to allow states to control their speed limits. They raised the limits in certain areas, and what happened… People bumped up their speed 5-10mph over the newly posted speed. people are going to drive fast if they have a lead foot, regardless of what the speed limit is, was or will be.

The Infamous Joe (profile) says:

Re: Re: Raise the speed limit

A link would be nice, if you please.

Also, I rarely look at the speed limit, I simply drive at a comfortable speed for myself, taking into consideration weather, congestion, area and time of day. Sometimes I find myself driving under the speed limit (40 mph in a residential area is insane, I think) or over it (65 mph on a highway on a sunny day is way too slow, and even if I wanted to drive that slow, I’d be endangering everyone around me who is going a more standard speed)

Speed limits seem to be set lower than the average person drives (and I’ve lived all over) and I wouldn’t be at all surprised to find that the reason it’s not raised is because less people breaking the speed limit = less revenue.

I have always thought that speed limits should be completely abolished, and the police can simply pull people over for reckless/careless driving if things get too excessive.

Glaze (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Raise the speed limit

It wasn’t really a study by any foundation or organization… just what i’ve witnessed for myself living in the heart of the twin cities… very rarely do I find myself driving 55 in a 55, its more like 60 or 65 in a 55… and 70-80 in a 65… and i am not going any slower or faster than the rest of traffic around me.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Raise the speed limit

You do realize that 55 was originally chosen as a federal speed limit when vehicles took 4-5 times as far to stop as current sedans? One of the big issues with the speed limits are that not all vehicles are created equal… my 2006 Nissan Titan is heavier by at least twice, but its brakes are incredible compared to my 1993 GMC Jimmy. My newer, heavier, larger vehicle accelerates faster, performs evasive maneuvers with more agility/control… and it stops MUCH faster.

The same speed limit is not adequate for all vehicles. This has a much bigger role to play in people driving over the speed limits than you think, because as they buy new cars they realize the speed limit ‘feels too slow’ (which is legitimately is). Unfortunately, people also tend to follow rather than drive their own car at a safe pace, so those with older vehicles often cruise right along with whoever they are behind (and some idiots always have to be moving faster than the rest no matter how fast that is).

Not all drivers are equal, certainly not all cars are equal. They shouldn’t all be traveling the same maximum speed irregardless of driving conditions! On a congested highway that makes sense, noone can actually move around anyone else there. On an open highway one single speed limit is NOT driven by safety motivations.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:3 Raise the speed limit

You do realize that 55 was originally chosen as a federal speed limit when vehicles took 4-5 times as far to stop as current sedans?

The national 55 limit was initiated to save fuel and had nothing to do with stopping distances. Furthermore, new vehicles at that time most certainly did not take “4-5 times as far to stop” as vehicles today. Please, stop making stuff up.

On an open highway one single speed limit is NOT driven by safety motivations.

Sigh…, there you go again. Studies have shown that speed variance is indeed a major factor in traffic safety.

bob says:

It's All About The Money

Here in my municipality we go to the judge and say guilt and ask to see the prosecutor who then gives you parking ticket violations. This way the money stays in the town and none of it goes to the state.
The fine is less, you get no points on your drivers license and your insurance does not go up.
This is all about the money.
So screw the chief of police.

Ima Fish (profile) says:

Rather than installing an app that tells you where the traps and cameras are, wouldn’t it be easier to simply not speed and to not run red lights?!

On a side note, I used to live in the Baltimore/DC area. Someone told me of the three car rule. I.e., three cars can run a red light before a cop can issue a ticket. Because it happens so often, I actually believed it for a few seconds before realizing it was a joke.

Anonymous Coward says:

Well gee...

Back in the day before speed guns and undercover police cars, speeding was a real one-on-one event. But then the police started implementing every well known practical piece of technology they could to start issuing tickets. Sure, speeding may be a problem, but at what point is it a revenue thing? Hell, they even have the traffic cameras that will automatically issue tickets now.

Besides, if I’m driving 5mph over the limit on a dark street late at night, who is the coward? Me or the cop hidden in the bushes on his impossible-to-spot motorcycle / undercover car, with a radar gun, 300+ feet down the road? Intentionally parked far away from speed limit signs, no less.

Hell, at least an iPhone app gives a chance to even the playing field a little – and may ultimately help people slow down, which is the point, right?

…Heh, it’s only a matter of time anyway before all cars are equipped with some kind of wireless broadcaster chip that relays your speed to tiny sensors throughout the freeway/road system and tickets get billed to you automatically. Of course, to start the car you’ll need to use a digitized license, so that the tickets get billed to the correct person driving the car. Bah.

Trapster (user link) says:

Trapster

What is even more cowardly is that apparently the Washington Examiner wrote an article primarily about an iPhone app, but left out the name of the iPhone app, which is Trapster. There are 600,000 + iPhone users using Trapster.

PhantomAlert is just a POI download service for Garmins etc. … they don’t even have a iPhone app or any other mobile app.

Lar says:

What a load

“but this app indiscriminately allows people to drive much greater than the speed limit and avoid any consequence” is not only untrue but just plain silly. How long have radar detectors been around? Those are acutally more likely to allow someone to drive faster than this app. If anything, this app would make things safer by having people slow down more. Talk about not thinking outside the box. That poster is right up there with the chief in being just plain wrong.

Chris says:

Break the law a little

I guess I don’t see COPS writing tickets as bad. Getting revenue (tickets, etc.) from people will keep taxes down and allow municipalities to provide services. I don’t have an issue with them looking at it as revenue, only if they start giving out tickets to people who are not breaking the law to generate revenue.

Sorry, “driving a couple miles per hour over the speed limit” is against the law. You can’t break the law a little, either you do it or you don’t. If you are worried about it, then drive a couple miles per hour under the limit and you should be fine. Would you drive a couple miles per hour over the limit if the punishment for doing so was execution? Castration?

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Break the law a little

There are laws about driving too slow, because you are not driving at the expected speed you are becoming a liability on the road.

It’s best to drive EXACTLY at the speed limit at all times. And stop on a dime when you see a red light. THEN you should be fine. Otherwise, you are a criminal and need to be punished to the full extend of the law.

And while you’re at it, you need to make sure that if you are a woman in Virginia, you have a man walking in front of your car telling everyone a woman is driving the car. Or else you should end up in prison for not obeying the LAW!

romeosidvicious (profile) says:

Re: Re: Break the law a little

Your logic is as bad as your spelling and grammar. The laws about driving to slow, in general, are based on traveling X mph under the posted speed limit. In Texas it is 15 mph under the speed limit so in a 65 mph zone you can drive between 50 and 65 mph legally and in a 35 mph zone you drive between 20 and 35 mph legally. Your hyperbole shows that you have no understanding of the laws you are arguing against.

The “weird law” to which you refer is not even from Virginia. It is from Tennessee and it is no longer on the books. You can’t believe everything you read when you search Google for weird traffic laws to back up your hyperbole.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: Break the law a little

The laws about driving to slow, in general, are based on traveling X mph under the posted speed limit. In Texas it is 15 mph under the speed limit so in a 65 mph zone you can drive between 50 and 65 mph legally and in a 35 mph zone you drive between 20 and 35 mph legally.

That’s not what the law says in Texas:

“An operator may not drive so slowly as to impede the normal and reasonable movement of traffic, except when reduced speed is necessary for safe operation or in compliance with law.” http://law.onecle.com/texas/transportation/545.363.00.html

So legally speaking in Texas, you could be ticketed for driving any speed under the limit if you are impeding someone behind you from going the limit. And legally you can also be ticketed for going any speed over. So the only completely legal option in some cases would be to maintain your speed at exactly the limit, which is of course physically impossible.

Now another tricky part is where speed limits change as it is also physically impossible to instantaneously change your speed. In this case though I think the “necessary for safe operation” bit would probably excuse the operator from attempting to do so.

Bottom line: if a cop *really* wants to find something to give you a ticket for, he can.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: Break the law a little

I’m just curious for you to point out my bad spelling? Because obviously your spelling is poor if you think mine is.

There was a law in a Virginian town. It may have been taken off the books, recently. As a previous Virginian, I didn’t need to do a Google search to look up information.

Chris says:

Re: Re: Break the law a little

I read my post over and over to see where I said I never have gone over the speed limit. I am just stating, either you are speeding or you are not. I have gotten a speeding ticket before, but I didn’t complain about it. I paid my fine and moved on. I didn’t get angry that it was “only a few mph over the limit.” Read it again and maybe you will get my point that I am not against COPS writing tickets for those who go over the speed limit.

Anonymous Coward says:

Oh man...

Just drive the speed limit or under and don’t run any red lights, you won’t have any problems. Limit is exactly that: a ‘limit’. Not a suggestion.

If it’s wrong to speed or run a red light, you’re an idiot. Tough it up and pay the fine and quit b*tching or blaming something or someone else. Intelligence should tell you not to speed as it’s dangerous… so if you speed, you’re not using your intelligence. Hence, you’re an idiot.

It’s like speeding through 15mph school zones. They’re 15mph for a reason: to ensure the safety and security of children. If someone speeds through it, they’re interfering with the safety and security of children. According to Dictionary.com, the first definition of ‘molest’ is “to bother, interfere with, or annoy”. So by a matter of deductive logic, speeding through a school zone means that person is molesting children of their safety and security (hence, the ‘interfering with’).

Intent doesn’t matter. If it happens, it’s done. Not paying attention is no excuse. Put away the mobile phones, put down the make up, stop screwing with the radio, and just PAY ATTENTION. It’s not that hard.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Oh man...

You know your speedometer is inaccurate by +/-5%? So unless you drive 5% under the speed limit you can’t reasonably be certain to aren’t an evil speeding criminal molestor nazi. Oh, and watch out for another fun ticket: “impeding the flow of traffic” while driving under the speed limit.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Oh man...

And do you realize that tickets are not given if you are a reasonable amount above or below the limit, exactly for this reason?

If you can’t stay within 5mph of the speed limit, you’re a terrible driver. Frankly, if you can’t stay within 2mph of the speed limit you’re not a very good driver.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Oh man...

Intelligence should tell you not to speed as it’s dangerous…

I remember the last speeding ticket I got, for doing 62 in a 55 passing through a little speed trap town. The cop had a really belligerent attitude and gave me a bawling out about how dangerous 62 MPH was. And the thing was, most of the other cars were actually going a little faster than I was. (Maybe the others were locals) Anyway, I went ahead and mailed in my payment to their local court. About a month after that I was passing back through and guess what? The state had raised the speed limit on that same stretch to 70 MPH (as a result of the Federal gov’t lifting the 55 national limit thing). I bet that really ticked off that little town.

So 62 was dangerous? Dangerous my ass, I really should have been going a little bit faster even. No, speed traps are more about shaking people down than promoting safety.

Hence, you’re an idiot.

I think the idiot might be the one who believes that speed limits are more for “safety” than “revenue”.

No Imagination (profile) says:

“I have always thought that speed limits should be completely abolished, and the police can simply pull people over for reckless/careless driving if things get too excessive.”

I REALLY like this idea. At first I thought to myself, ‘that would just lead to insane police misconduct and arbitrary enforcement of the law(s’, then I realized, that it precisely what we have going on right now anyway

Anonymous Coward says:

Missing the problem

“Indeed. Shouldn’t the police be happy that a software product is helping people slow down or avoid running red lights? How could that possibly be seen as a bad thing… or “cowardly”? “

The police aren’t unhappy that people are slowing down or stopping at their speed traps. They’re unhappy because the app allows speeding and red-light running everywhere else. How would you feel as a traffic cop, knowing that dangerous driving is going to happen everywhere that you aren’t?

Added to that, many speed traps occur at the most problematic areas. If you know that 1/3 times you drive through an area there will be a cop, then more likely than not you will drive through there safely 3/3 times. Now that you can be explicitly told when a cop is there, the problem drivers will now be driving dangerously 2/3 times.

Sorry Mike, I can’t agree with your stance here in the slightest. The point of law enforcement isn’t to catch criminals, it’s to deter crime from happening in the first place. Knowing when and where laws will not be enforced COMPLETELY DESTROYS THE LAW.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Missing the problem

THE APP DOESN’T TELL YOU WHERE COPS ARE AND AREN’T!!!

It tells you where to stop or slow, not where to speed up. That’s idiotic. There is equal chance a cop can be in a non speed-trap area with or without this app, so it doesn’t tell anyone where it’s “ok” to speed, because a cop could be there just as likely as a cop could be there at any other time or any other place.

If cops in your area are ONLY sitting around speed traps tagging speeders, then that’s sad, and a fine example of tax dollars at work!

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Missing the problem

From what I understand, the app takes user submitted information and sends it out (with a system to reflect reliability of the user).

Given the speed that unreviewed, user generated content is updated, it’s not that hard to believe that the app can and will effectively tell you exactly where a cop has stopped his car.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: Missing the problem

1. It requires more than one person following a cop around tagging the cop every time he stops at a stop sign. Otherwise, you’d only have those Family Circus Billy dashed lines all over the city.

2. That data needs to be updated, and then downloaded and propagated to all the people with the iPhone app. But then data doesn’t instantly disappear, so then someone will need to go back through and wait for the data to die and then the old location information to be removed from the system and blah blah blah …

So, no, you do not understand the app, and no, it will not effectively tell you exactly where cops are and aren’t at that moment.

You can believe what you want. I’ve used the app. And I would agree with you, but then we’d both be wrong.

minijedimaster (profile) says:

Re: Missing the problem

…knowing that dangerous driving is going to happen…

Driving over the speed limit != Dangerous driving. I can’t tell you how many roads I’ve been on that have artificially LOW speed limits like 25 or 35mph when they could easily be 40 or 50mph and still be safe. They’re only that low to allow for revenue, NOT SAFETY.

btr1701 (profile) says:

Re: Missing the problem

> Sorry Mike, I can’t agree with your stance here in the slightest.

Well, the Supreme Court of Texas disagrees with you. They ruled over a decade ago that stuff like this is protected speech.

Back in the early ’90s when I was in college in Austin, there was a well-known speed trap where the state troopers loved to sit and pick off speeders north of town on I-35. Well, one weekend a couple of college kids got ticked off after getting a ticket there and went and made up a bunch of signs that said SPEED TRAP AHEAD! SLOW DOWN! They stood on the side of the road about a half-mile up-traffic from the speed trap and warned all the cars on the highway. It didn’t take long before they were caught and arrested for “obstruction of justice”.

Their case wound its way through the court system until the state supreme court heard it and ruled that it’s protected speech under the 1st Amendment and the Texas Constitution and it can never be considered obstruction for one citizen to encourage another to obey the law.

Now DC ain’t Texas but we all live under the same 1st Amendment and it’s unlikely that another court would rule differently.

Anonymous Coward says:

Live free or die. This is the American way. You set up a barrier and someone else builds a mousetrap around your barrier. I thank God that I live here. If you don’t like the IPHONE app, we have a court system and a legal process, and it is well within your right to file a lawsuit on behalf of your police department.

Gerie says:

Works fine in Holland

In the Netherlands “surprise” speedtraps on interstates are announced on the radio alongside traffic information. Less tickets are given, but more people adhere to the speedlimit, resulting in safer roads. Road safety is achieved easier by informing many people beforehand and make them adhere, than to punish a few after they already were speeding. Works like a charm.

PT (profile) says:

It's a legitimate tool

It has nothing to do with the morality of speeding. Cops are public employees. I am a member of the public that employs them. When I employ someone, I have a right to know where they are and what they’re doing at all times. This app provides (some of) that information, so it’s just a management tool, like a Barracuda filter that tracks internet usage at work.

Dark Helmet (profile) says:

Re: It's a legitimate tool

“It has nothing to do with the morality of speeding. Cops are public employees. I am a member of the public that employs them. When I employ someone, I have a right to know where they are and what they’re doing at all times.”

The CIA, NSA, FBI, US Military, under cover police units, and FEMA would all like a word with you, please.

David says:

Revenue

Of course it’s all about revenue. We’ve known that here in the UK for years, despite strenuous denials from the police. They call ’em “safety cameras” to add a different spin. They go to great lengths to park their speed-trap vans where they are bound to catch a few “miscreants”, such as a few hundred yards past a fixed speed camera on an up-hill stretch of road near me. There is a showground about a mile further on and it is sheer coincidence, of course, that the speed van seems to make an appearance when something is happening there and, unusually, stays there all day. The cynics amongst us might possibly suggest that they are out to catch all the visiting strangers who might not be aware of their fiendish little scheme.

Arthur Hubbard (user link) says:

There is no speed limt

I have help over 10,000 drivers get out of speeding tickets by just asking the police over one question. Officer Sam please point out in the speed stautue that applyies to me.Guess what it usually says commercial vehicle for hire or transportation of goods. The officers is force to drop his case in disbelief. When they see my customers with that paper work in hand they will probably just go ahead and say we don’t want to proceed you honor.

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