Cell phone app tips drivers off to ‘speed traps’

Motorists who feel the need for speed but not the speeding ticket can download a free app for their cell phone or GPS device that will alert them to speed traps, traffic enforcement cameras and other law enforcement campaigns on the road. The app is called “Trapster” and it was created in 2007 by Pete Tenerillo of Carlsbad, as way to combine his love for gadgets and cars, said Sean Farrell, spokesman. Trapster can be downloaded to just about any smart phone and used with navigation devices. The app has 8.5 million users worldwide, he said. Locally, 2,349 Santa Cruz County drivers used Trapster in the last 30 days, Farrell added. “Those users reported 155 speed traps, accidents, enforcement cameras, etc. in the past 30 days,” he said How does the app work? When a Trapster user sees a police officer running radar, she or he can log the location into Trapster using their cell phone or navigation device. “This will alert all Trapster users in the area,” said Farrell. “Think of it as a high-tech version of flashing your headlights to alert drivers of potential road hazards.” While Trapster encourages users to use a mount for their phone to use Trapster, motorists can wait until they're in front of a computer and can log onto Trapster.com to report the what they've seen. “We hope using Trapster helps make the roads safer,” Farrell said. “If enough people get the alerts and slow down, the roads will be safer to drive.” Trapster is working with law enforcement agencies to help drivers follow the rules of the road. Santa Cruz Police Capt. Steve Clark applauds any effort to get drivers to slow down. “If an area constantly has officers working traffic enforcement, then it is an area where there is a chronic problem with the behavior or driving habits of the motorists,” he said. “If Trapster is effective in helping correct the driving behavior before the need for enforcement, then it actually helps accomplish our goal. If it causes drivers to slow down and/or improve their driving habits through an area, then we should expand its use. I would love to see the number of citations issued reduced because of improved driving habits.” The goal of traffic enforcement is to correct the driving behavior of motorists in a particular area and ultimately increase safety of the traveling public, he said. “The goal is never about 'writing a bunch of tickets' for the sake of writing tickets,” Clark added. “By the way, they shouldn't be looking at the app while they're driving. The rise in cell phone tickets might correlate to any decrease in speeding tickets.”
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