Did you miss the days when folks would high-beam you with their headlights to warn you of parked police cars ahead? Those hiding po-pos will get you if you're not careful these days. Now you have a modernized high-tech high beam solution in Trapster. Consistent use and reliance on the goodwill of others will steer you clear of speed traps.
Using Trapster requires that you setup an account with them at www.trapster.com
. After entering all of your information, including your cell phone number and service provider, you'll be sent a text message with a code. After entering that into the Safari browser screen, you'll be approved and can set your preferences (see above).
Firing up Trapster will take you to your current location with a map - like a built-in Google map. Unfortunately, in smaller towns like mine, it appears that the whole 8 mile radius of the town is a giant speed trap... ;)
Tapping on the screen brings up an option break in which you can place different icons on your screen. You'll be able to quickly place police cars, traffic stops, speed traps, and waiting patrol units on the screen by dragging them into position.
Hopefully, you'll also see where other users of Trapster have left icons for you so that you can avoid the traps and get quickly to your destination.
After you place an icon, you're given the option of confirming or rejecting its destination. In addition, there's a toll free number which you can call and give the address of the trap, and the Trapster service will locate it for you.
You can also sign up for text message alerts to new speed traps.
By keeping Trapster launched while you're driving, you're able to locate speed traps in real time by simply tapping on the phone. It uses the iPhone's GPS abilities, and you'll see your vehicle traveling along the road much like the Google Map app works. When you tap on your location, you'll add a quick alert, and this updates speed trap locations on the Trapster servers for other users. They have a nice little demo on their website
This app is completely dependent on user participation, and I've found that there were simply no other Trapster users in my area - which pretty much defeats the purpose. In my iPhone user circle, no one had heard of Trapster yet, but everyone saw advantages to it. However, in a small town, I just can't see this being viable - just not enough users.
However, in a larger city, I can certainly see benefits, particularly during rush hours.
One user in the Trapster forums reported his use of the service - albeit on a different phone after a 1000-mile trip. His points are summarized below:
- A scanner still produces far fewer false alerts than the Trapster service.
- Roving speed enforcement is a problem. Trapster users are instructed to report stationary traps, but too many law enforcement vehicles (pacing or, more commonly, shooting radar) are moving.
- Trapster's strength lies in its live alerts.
- Trapster needs more active users!
Since I was unable to test the app in an area with other Trapster users, I can't fairly judge the service, but I thought this user's experience might be helpful.
I think the concept is excellent, and as far as the app itself goes, conceptually it offers a lot. The main drawback is getting the word out and whether folks will take the time to fire up the app or call a number to report a speed trap. I suspect that the old-fashioned high beam still is quicker, faster and more reliable than a service of this nature.
Usability: 3 / 5
Value: 5 / 5
Utility: 3 / 5
Aesthetics: 4 / 5
Overall Rating: 3.75 / 5