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Phone and GPS apps help drivers avoid hazards and accidents

Some drivers across the United States are employing smartphone and GPS apps to alert them to red-light cameras, speed-traps and other road conditions. Drivers and police are divided on the utility of the applications.

Some drivers feel the technology levels the playing field regarding speed traps and others believe the technology is legitimately helpful in warning drivers about upcoming speed limit changes, traffic or car accidents. Police are just as conflicted. Some police believe the technology is meant to take advantage of safety precautions like DUI enforcement and other police officers believe the technology helps drivers comply with the rules of the road.

Some of the names of the apps are Trapster, Fuzz Alert and Cobra's iRadar. Among the most popular highway apps is PhantomAlert. PhantomAlert is an online database that users can download to smartphones or GPS devices. The app warns drivers about red-light cameras, speed zones, school zones and DUI checkpoints.

One officer from Maryland believes drivers who use the app to avoid DUI checkpoints only want to drink and drive and avoid getting caught. Another officer from Virginia Beach has helped GPS companies verify their information and believes the apps make drivers more aware. One retired firefighter who bought a lifetime PhantomAlert subscription says the information has made him a more aware driver.

The retired firefighter said it even helps him be more aware along roads he is very familiar with. Commenting he said, "A lot of times when people drive, they're not paying a lot of attention, especially if it's a road you drive on repeatedly." Perhaps this technology is an example of more information helping drivers rather than more information taking away focus from the road.

Source: USA Today, "High-tech apps help drivers evade police," Larry Copeland, 3/21/11

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