Controversial App Exposes Police Speed Traps

Dennis Faas's picture

An innovative smartphone application is causing great distress for police officers everywhere. It features a built-in warning system that informs motorists when a hidden police vehicle is in the area.

Anti-Police Speed Trap App a Hit with Motorists

"Trapster" was designed by a car enthusiast in San Diego and has since become an overnight sensation in terms of its download figures and usage.

Many are referring to the system as a hi-tech version of the age-old scenario in which people flash their headlights to warn one another that a speed trap is in the vicinity. In this same spirit, Trapster is reliant on people reporting police locations.

Once a location has been flagged, the system is updated in real time and sent out to every other person who uses the app.

App Not Technically Illegal

Not surprisingly, the subject has become a major sore spot for officers looking to fulfill their professional obligations. The bad news for police (and good news for Trapster users) is that because the app does not actually detect radar signals, it isn't technically illegal. (Source:

On the other hand, it could be considered obstruction of justice. Still, this would be extremely difficult to prove in a court of law.

Police: "Not Much We Can Do"

Officer Julie Mann of the Ottawa Police Service echoed these sentiments, saying "At least with high-beam flashing, we had improper use of headlights to fall back on, but with this (Trapster), there is not much we can do". (Source:

Many would think that since Trapster only works when users submit updates from the road, anyone who activates the app while driving is breaking the law.

The makers of Trapster have already taken measures to accommodate most distracted-driving laws by enabling hands-free, headset-equipped users to report a speed trap by phoning in the location to a designated 1-800 number.

As it stands, close to 11 million people in North America have downloaded Trapster.

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