'Yes, there's an app for that,' but some senators want it banned
By Meghan Lane
Fri, 01 Apr 2011 03:14:22 GMT — There seems to be a smartphone application for pretty much anything and everything. You can scan barcodes at the store to make sure you get the best price, you can find out what song is playing on the radio and even who sings it, yes there's an app for that. But one group of apps has four U.S. Senators up in arms. In a letter the senators from New Jersey, New York, New Mexico and Nevada asked companies like Apple, Google and BlackBerry to get rid of their applications that allow drivers to find out where DUI checkpoints and speed traps are. We know that your companies share our desire to end the scourge of drunk driving, and we therefore would ask you to remove these applications from your store unless they are altered to remove the DUI/DWI checkpoint functionality, the senators wrote.Applications like PhantomAlert, Trapster and iRadar available through Apple's App Store claim to be able to help drivers avoid speed traps and checkpoints.Other applications available give drivers even more details about where red light cameras are located and where school zones are.CBS News reported the senators said the applications in question alert drivers to the placement of DUI checkpoints. They said one application contains a database of DUI checkpoints updated in real-time, while another application - which they say has over 10 million users - lets users alert each other to the presence of DUI checkpoints.We appreciate the technology that has allowed millions of Americans to have information at their fingertips, but giving drunk drivers a free tool to evade checkpoints, putting innocent families and children at risk, is a matter of public concern, the senators said.KRCG spoke with Missouri's Department of Transportation to find out if they're aware of the apps and if they cause concern."As long as people are using them to think twice before drinking and driving, they can be a good thing and a positive awareness tool," MoDOT Community Relations Specialist Revee White said. "The hope is, they would use them to see, hey, there's a checkpoint tonight, I need to call a cab or get a designated driver."Jefferson City Police Department Captain Doug Shoemaker said their main concern is people driving safely.Shoemaker said they use other programs besides checkpoints to keep drunk drivers off the road.Shoemaker went on to say drivers who pay attention to what they are doing and follow the law won't need such applications.One program the Jefferson City Police department utilizes is the Sober Driver Program.Cole County Sheriff Greg White said the applications will be useful. He said the apps will keep honest people honest.On KRCG's facebook page many people commented about the apps.Many of those who commented are against the software.I really don't think it should be allowed at all, Rusty Reid said. I feel drivers spend to much time playing with their cell phones while driving anyway. As a over the road truck driver i have seen to many deaths because of distracted drivers.Personally, I think they are ridiculous!! It is helping people break the law?!?! If everyone just obeyed the law - Stopped at Red Lights and DID NOT drink and drive, no such apps would be needed, Cherie Jordan Diemler said on KRCG's facebook page.On the other side, some KRCG viewers said they thought the applications would be beneficial.I think it would be very helpful, Elizabeth Bertrand Leleux said. They say knowledge is power. I am all about letting people know about red light cameras. Adding construction sites on would be a good addition to that app.While Leleux said she thinks they would be helpful she said there should be a limit.I think DWI checkpoints should be left off that app, Leleux said. Too many deaths have been caused by drunk drivers. I want the checkpoints to find the drivers who are under the influence.The cost of these applications vary and sometimes they can even be free.On PhantomALERT's application page says the application is completely legal and has quotes from law enforcement across the country promoting it.So far, BlackBerry has pulled one controversial app off the market.RIM, the company that makes BlackBerry phones is the first of the smartphone companies to remove the applications from their markets.What do you think? Should all smartphone companies pull their apps like these off the market? Would you use these apps?
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