Despite accepting – and even flaunting – my BlackBerry addiction, I *cough* always make sure to follow the rules of the road. That means Bluetooth Headset in ear and two hands on the wheel (most of the time). Speaking of which, are you reading this while driving?! For crying out loud, put your BlackBerry down and read it later! The rest of you, carry on. As I was saying, safe driving doesn’t end there, oh no Mr Leadfoot. Now while you may complain about speed traps, red light cameras and other Speed Racer deterrents, they are in place for a reason. Sure I get mad when traffic slows down to a crawl as they pass by a live police trap, but I know that they are there to make sure I get home to my wife and son.
Trapster for BlackBerry helps you stay informed of what’s happening on the road, while minimizing your BlackBerry’s ‘in-hand’ time. With access to what other Trapster users are reporting, you can be alerted of various traffic control points, as well as specific road conditions. Safe driving is being aware of your own driving and your surroundings – Trapster is here to help. Buckle up while we take Trapster for a spin.
Trapster, known as a Speed Trap Sharing System, was first introduced in 2007. Since then, a user base of over 8 million strong, have been able to access and share tips on numerous alerts and conditions. Some see it as a way to support poor driving habits and avoiding tickets. In actuality, it’s a means of knowing what to expect while driving and, over time, promotes safer driving. The more alerts you receive about potential speed traps, the less likely you will be speeding on by. Besides BlackBerry, Trapster is available on a variety of platforms; Palm, iPhone/iPad., Nokia, Windows Mobile, Android – even Garmin and TomTom- all can make use of Trapster.
Trapster is free to use and currently supports BlackBerry OS 4.3 and higher. It isn’t necessary to have a GPS-enabled BlackBerry on hand; you can also incorporate a Bluetooth puck.
Through the mobile application, you can link up with your Trapster account. Unlike some applications, Trapster makes it easy to sign up for their free account from within the application – instead of having to create one the next time you access a computer. As it is made to be used while driving, the application requires very little set up or management.
The application offers three types of map views; basic road map, aerial imagery or hybrid. Additional options allow you to see traffic, except for that annoying driver with the perpetual blinking left turn signal. Even though you should be keeping your eyes on the road, you should know that the maps are easy to read and navigate; allowing you to move around the map without experiencing choppy transitions. Whatever view you choose, your map will display any of the following conditions (as reported by you and other users):
Now you don’t have to be notified of all types of alerts - you can filter them out. Each trap or hazard has a confidence level. Confidence levels are colour coded to indicate if they have been verified by one or more users. So you could set a Speed Trap alert to sound only if it a Red Trap (highest level of confidence). Trapster also includes a Patrol option, which will mark reported patrol routes with a blue line. As you drive, Trapster will constantly monitor your location and compare it to any existing alerts. Initially, the application will display a maximum of 50 traps within a 4 mile radius. These values can be altered to suit your needs, including the option to switch between miles and kilometres. Similarly, Trapster will alert you when you come within 0.3 miles of a trap or notification; or choose an alert radius of your own. This radius becomes visible as you near an alert or condition; giving you time to make the necessary adjustments. Essentially it can alert you sooner than a radar detector. Additional alert information includes the date it was last reported.
You have a number of options when it comes to alert settings. You can choose audible alerts, vibrating alerts, popup icon, or any combination of the three. The audio settings can be set to play through the BlackBerry, a Bluetooth headset, a handsfree headset and more. Trapster does not make use of BlackBerry sound clips. They include a standard spoken alert system (ie –“Checkpoint”). Now you could stick with the default audio alert theme, or you can use any of the 16 funny themes including; Arnold (the Governator), Homer Simpson and Sponge Bob.
Besides being alerted of traps, Trapster has the ability to let you report traps and hazards, as well. All you have to do is choose the type of alert and place it on the map. Of course, you should only be doing this when you are not driving. While knowing where traps may be is good to know, it’s not 100% accurate. Obviously the police don’t stick to one area of town, or one particular road. The accuracy of the alert database is based upon the attentiveness of its users.
While some may still argue that it is a tool to benefit reckless drivers, I still say it actually promotes safer driving. One would assume that viewing all of the alerts that could pop up on your BlackBerry would eventually make you think twice about your driving habits. On the other hand, if you get an alert about a car accident, you can always take an alternate route before you are stuck behind it. Speaking of pop ups, I think that Trapster should have a large pop up notification available rather than briefly increasing the size of the icon. I also did find at times that the application took a minute or so to display all of the alerts within the specified area. I can’t give a specific time because I was, you know, DRIVING. I would definitely suggest giving Trapster a spin, just don’t blame me if you get a ticket. You can grab Trapster, for free, from the CrackBerry App Store.