• Jul 18, 2009
D.C. police chief Cathy Lanier, frustrated that iPhone technology is one step ahead of the red-light and speed cameras in her jurisdiction, has announced that those who use their hand-held electronic devices are "cowardly" and "...are going to get caught" in one way or another.
The subscription-based software that has Lanier shaking her fists and blurting out names is called PhantomAlert. In a nutshell, its GPS-enhanced database of law enforcement "points of interest" mimics alarms similar to those common to radar detectors (remember, radar detectors are already illegal in Virginia and D.C.). Drivers are alerted to approaching speed traps and photo enforcing locations on in their iPhone, or portable GPS units, enabling them time to slow down.

Not surprising when you consider that the greater D.C. area is home to nearly 10 percent of all traffic cameras in the U.S., according to experts. Chief Lanier is frustrated that the innovative technology is "designed to circumvent law enforcement -- law enforcement that is designed specifically to save lives." What Lanier seems to be forgetting is that attentive drivers using PhantomAlert will be slowing down at all 290 enforcement zones... saving countless lives in the process.

[Source: Washington Examiner, Photo by Michael Harley]


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  • 66 Comments
      • 5 Years Ago
      D.C. Police is a coward for preying on people only speeding a little bit inside of going after wreckless drivers and people running light. I lived in Phoenix for 3 years and that place is covered in speed cameras, it is a income for them, a cheap fast way for the police to make money, why fight crime?
      In D.C. they Ban radar dectors, but you can get around it with a good one that will turn off when the cops do a scan for cars with radar dectors.
      • 5 Years Ago
      This is BS and just goes to show that the cameras and speed traps are nothing more than political revenue. The irony is that the money probably doesn't even go to law enforcement (which I'd somewhat support). It likely goes to political programs that either only affect a few or to fund unnecessary social programs that many of the people complaining on here feel we "need" and want for free. Go figure. Anyways, this software at least makes "people" aware of these safety nets which is a good thing. On the other hand, I also agree with the argument that the speed traps and lights only transfer risk from one aspect of driving to another. Lastly, people want rules about phones, texting, makeup, eating, etc. Well, that can go too far, AND, are only as good as they're enforced. Here in California we've had the cell phone ban for like a year and noone heeds it and the time involved for a police officer to pull someone over and write a ticket is a lot more expensive than a $20 cell phone ticket. The only thing that would make it worthwhile is if the girl is hot and the cop gets a date out of it. Make the penalties high enough that they 1) discourage the practice in question and 2) are cost effective for the level of effort to enforce.
      • 5 Years Ago
      Focus on the parking tickets that is where the money is...Chief Kathy. DC is a such a non-city. Filled with people and police chiefs with a over-simplified view of self-importance. And fine mayors who do coke, don't pay taxes and get their girlfriend $100K job doing nothing. Wall it off and make it a prison.
      • 5 Years Ago
      Interestingly, the fixed speed camera are actually announced in advance by a sign in France. They tell, there is a camera in a 1000m or so. People then slow down in advance, and often don't seem to resume as high a speed as they used to afterward. Although I was thinking "wtf is the point of having speed camera is you announce them", well it actually works quite well. Probably does not make much money except on the idiots/drunks that does not pay attention to signals which in retrospect is quite good.
      • 5 Years Ago
      It'd be great if "adults" would just be "responsible" while operating a vehicle.
      • 5 Years Ago
      She is upset because it's about money, it's never been and never will be about safety.
      • 5 Years Ago
      And how obeying the law makes them cowards? I fail to see it. That they speed outside of the radar zone is bad but that they actually OBEY the law in the radar zone because of the iPhone seems like a good thing to me. I may be missing something.
      • 5 Years Ago
      "...designed specifically to save lives." What a load of crap. The only reason those things exist is purely to generate revenue. There are numerous other, more effective ways of saving lives, but they cost money and do not generate any revenue. She is just upset that her department is now footing the bill for these stupid cameras and not the unfortunate motorists who pass by them.
      • 5 Years Ago
      Cowardly??!!! The only coward is Chief Lanier, and her ilk around the country. They have NO intention of slowing down traffic for safety's sake. Speed "traps" are only created for enhancing the community's dollar intake (and to excercise the power rush police officers thrive on). Somebody has to pay for the gas wasted by the blue team, while they wait in their cruisers, eating doughnuts, with the air cranked up.
      • 5 Years Ago
      1) I don't speed.
      2) You build speed traps on streets with posted signs: 45-25-45, for example, ( with no School on the block ). I want fair warning about these BS drops in speed. Why should my car insurance go up, for something that should clearly be illegal. A clear form of entrapment.
      3) Camera Traps: This is where you SHORTEN the Yellow interval, making the Intersection LESS SAFE, to generate revenue, and Risk My Life.

      Damn Right, I want to know where you're ENGINEERING UNSAFE CONDITIONS to generate revenue.

      There should be a National Mandatory Standard for the Yellow Light Interval! It should be a Long Interval, which has PROVEN to be Safer.

      You make that change first, before you start complaining about IPhone Applications.

        • 5 Years Ago
        Amen brother...I was thinking the same thing. Don't they always shorten the yellow where they place the cameras? In the name of safety my arse.
      • 5 Years Ago
      If cowardly puts more money in my pocket and less in their, hurray!

      I am miffed by the 10% of speed cameras in the USA. I really cant say i have noticed them around dc at all. There are a few here and there but they dont really stand out i guess.
      • 5 Years Ago
      It appears obvious to me who everyone feels the real cowards are here.. It's all about the money. Nobody cares about saving lives. It's all about the money. There's not much more to be said...
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