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Avoiding Traffic Cameras Using Your iPod Touch and the Trapster App

written by: PreciousJohnDoe•edited by: Rebecca Scudder•updated: 6/13/2011

The recession has forced cities to find new sources of revenue, and speed traps and traffic cameras are filling the coffers thanks to unsuspecting drivers. But don't despair, because the iPhone comes to the rescue so that you can avoid these harbingers of monetary doom.

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    What a Traffic Camera Can Cost You

    We've all seen them when we've bothered to look - traffic cameras looming over an intersection or along a street - waiting to catch you speeding or running a red light. Certainly the idea behind them - to scare motorists into behaving properly - is worthwhile and one that can save lives. But considering that most cameras are ignored, their real value seems to be more in the huge fines that result from their catching someone. Tickets can cost hundreds of dollars depending upon the State (for example, in California you can get hit with a fine of well over $400). And even worse, points can go against your license that will negatively impact your insurance (costing you even more money).

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    GPS Can Help - for a Price

    A number of GPS companies such as Garmin, Tom-Tom and Magellan have added traffic camera spotters to their devices through software, and the fact that these models are selling so well, even though they cost more, tells you something. That's with a cost for the device and, in some cases, ongoing monthly subscription charges. Of course keeping track of thousands of traffic cameras isn't easy (one GPS model touts over 10,000 in its database) so we can see where a charge could come in - but really? Monthly charges? Even if they're adding speed trap information, that's seems unfair. Bet that the App Store doesn't go that route.

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    Say Hello To Trapster


    No bet because that brings us to Trapster. And there's no cost for getting or using it. So does that mean it's a crippled or dumbed down version that doesn't do jack? No way - 5 minutes after I downloaded it I was being shown things I hadn't noticed before - like where a speed cop tended to hide near a 7/11 convenience store just 2 blocks away. Or that half a mile away was an intersection with a lot of cameras working. Of course I wonder if it really has over 500,000 in its database but since it allows for "social" networking with others who can add in their information, I guess that doesn't seem so amazing (sorta like the old days of CB radio guys talking good buddy to one another when old Smokey was detected).

    Speed trap 

    I do like the way it displays text overlays on the map and allows for drilling down to specifics. The fact that it can work with Push notifications is also pretty cool as is the MyTrips feature and being able to sync with Facebook and Twitter. The point is that it can be of help and there are plenty of ways for it to prove useful.

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    The Bad News

    Of course nothing comes for free - you do have to sign up to use Trapster most effectively - and that can mean getting all kinds of proposals from the company as well as others who it could sell your email to. A simple solution would be to get a new email from Yahoo or Gmail or such and use that (one that doesn't impact your normal day-to-day). Of course you can't use this while traveling if you use an iPod Touch -- since the Touch doesn't have cellular capabilities like an iPhone, but then again you might be able to tap into a Wi-Fi network while tooling down the street or stopping - a nearby Starbucks or Barnes and Noble maybe? Best to use it with an iPhone then.

    Still, even with these restrictions you'll find a little knowledge can be a dangerous thing - dangerous to the city looking to take you down. For us drivers, it's more of a beautiful thing.

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