LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) - From CB radios to flashing headlights, drivers who discover speed traps often try to warn other drivers before they're pulled over. Nowadays those warnings are as close as your cell phone.
Trapster is an application for smart phones that taps into the phone's internal GPS and turns it into a mini traffic data center that maps out speed traps and red light cameras and warns drivers blocks in advance with an audible alert.
Drivers from across the country provide detailed information to Trapster, which adds it to its database.
"It's a community of people who are empowered by reporting traps or getting alerts," said Jennifer Van Grove with Trapster.com.
Reporting information is simple and relatively instantaneous: users who spot police officers or speed zones simply tap the screen to bring up a police icon. Tap it again and that information is sent to the server so that other cars driving in the area are alerted to the police presence.
Trapster has paid staff and volunteers to check out tips and rate their credibility. That information is then added to a detailed map, which can be viewed on a smart phone or computer.
You would think Trapster would be controversial, but Indiana State Police actually like it. "We wish there would be a 1,000 more just like it," said Sgt. Jerry Goodin with the Indiana State Police in Sellersburg. "The reason why is this type of website is helping us gain voluntary compliance on speeding."
Trapster is free and its users say it is fun. Police just hope you don't get distracted by using the application on your phone while driving.
Trapster and similar programs can also be used with old-style cell phones that don't have GPS. Just enter detailed information about your commute, along with your phone number, on the Trapster website.
Specify the times you take that route, and if there are any traps along the way, Trapster will alert you with a text message.