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Red light cameras? There’s an app for that

Of course you can use your iPhone to avoid red light cameras and speed traps. Dwight tells us about it.

Most Houston drivers know that the city has set up cameras at certain intersections to snap photos of those who run red lights. The drivers are then fined, with a copy of the photo and a notice to pay sent to the house to the address associated with the vehicle’s registration.

But most drivers don’t know exactly where these cameras are, unless they’ve consulted any of several maps that show their locations.

Now there’s a free iPhone app called Trapster that alerts you to the cameras as you approach them. Trapster also warns when you may be approaching a speed trap. The latest version works with the notification feature of the new iPhone OS 3.0 to alert you even if the app isn’t running.

Trapster uses a database of 400,000 known traps, augmented by user reports. If you’ve got the app, you can report a speed trap or red-light camera just by tapping a button as you pass it. Other users of Trapster can vote on the veracity of your report, which helps improve the reliability and accuracy of the database.

There are other options if you aren’t iPhone-enabled, the most effective of which is simply not running red lights or speeding. Boring, I know, but as driving while playing with one’s phone is dangerous, it’s probably for the best.

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4 Comments

  1. EdT. says:

    Actually, while I don’t make a habit of either running red lights or speeding (or goosing the accelerator when the person in the next lane activates their turn signal, for that matter), I do have (and use) Trapster. It’s a nice little tool for trip planning, as I can review the planned route and decide if I want to deal with known speed traps/RLCs or simply re-route around them.

    The only thing it is missing, I think: a flag for high-accident locations.

    ~EdT.

  2. So what do you do if you can’t go around the RLC?

    Here are two things the authorities don’t want you to know because it costs them money.

    1. Slowing down when you approach a stale green light (one that has been green for some time) gives you a better chance of safely stopping when the light goes yellow. Of course you still must guess where the stop or go decision point is located so you could still get a ticket particularly if the amber time (also called the yellow change interval) is illegally short.

    HPD will not tell the public what the amber time is at each photo enforced traffic light because they think their only responsibility is strictly enforcing the red light not the legally required minimum amber time.

    2. If you get a ticket note the amber time that appears on the still photos of your violation. These can be viewed on the internet. Houston has stopped providing this information on the ticket they send you in the mail. If the amber time is less than the legal minimum as defined by TxDOT your ticket is not valid. Based on the posted speed limit the minimum amber times in Texas are:

    35 MPH 3.6 seconds
    40 MPH 3.9 seconds
    45 MPH 4.3 seconds
    50 MPH 4.7 seconds
    55 MPH 5.0 seconds
    60 MPH 5.4 seconds

    If you get a ticket that is for a traffic light that has an illegally short amber time, let me know by email to [email protected]. The Houston Coalition Against Red Light Cameras is trying to keep a count of all the RLC locations in the greater Houston area that have short amber times.

  3. I go the same way everyday I HAVE NEVER RAN A LIGHT! I get closer and maybe went over the line but I STOPPED.After you get one ticket why would any sane person run the light again? I will protest this ticket .Not one of the pictures show me turning the corner I AM still at the light. As hard as times are who has time to protest anything but just because I fell treated bad I will protest. I have had tickets and paid them..But lets all be fair sometimes mistakes are made but please check the camera on Baker&Loop 201.

  4. check light @baker & 201 tickets show me running light I stopped before I turned even the picture showed me stopped