Can Your Smart Phone Make You a Safer Driver?

By Beecher Tuttle October 25, 2010

Over the years, technology companies have launched a number of products designed to help motorists avoid getting stuck with a speeding ticket. Unfortunately for impatient drivers, these devices aren't legal in all states and often cost more than a potential ticket.

Luckily, a developer came to the rescue with an app called Trapster. Ranked as one of PC Magazine's must-have travel apps, Trapster uses the GPS functionality of a smart phone to notify drivers of speed traps, police checkpoints, red light cameras, accidents and other roadway hazards.

In essence, the application is a social networking tool. When a smart phone owner sees a police officer sitting on the side of the road with a radar gun, they can notify other drivers by simply pushing a few buttons. Motorists who are farther back on the road are informed of the speed trap with a beep from their smart phone.

“One great thing about that is that it's hands-free,” founder Pete Tenereillo told CNN. “You don't have to be looking at the phone or even be holding it to be notified of the speed trap – which, of course, is safer, because you don't have to take your eyes off the road to be notified of the trap.”

Trapster is compatible with Blackberry, iPhone, Nokia, Android, Windows Mobile, Palm Pre, Garmin and TomTom devices.

While Trapster forces drivers to slow down for short periods of time, it certainly doesn't help eradicate the issue of speeding. If anything, it may perpetuate the problem.

In an effort to give drivers an incentive to stay under the speed limit, several car insurance companies are currently experimenting with different pieces of technology.

For example, Progressive offers its policy holders a $30 device called Snapshot. When plugged into a car, the wireless gadget evaluates speed, sharp braking, miles driven and the time of day those miles are accrued, according to Appolicious. If customers meet certain criteria proving that they are a safe driver, Progressive will offer them a 25 percent discount.

Appolicious' Kevin Maney suggests that this form of technology may soon make its way into a smart phone app, giving millions of drivers a financial incentive to not only avoid a speeding ticket, but also keep the roads a bit safer.

Beecher Tuttle is a TechZone360 contributor. He has extensive experience writing and editing for print publications and online news websites. He has specialized in a variety of industries, including health care technology, politics and education. To read more of his articles, please visit his columnist page.

Edited by Erin Harrison

TechZone360 Contributor

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