Speeders keep tabs on cops keeping tabs on speeders
Const. Matt Cawsey uses a radar gun to catch speeders as they enter the Pat Bay Highway Tuesday.Sharon Tiffin/News staff
By Keith Vass - Saanich News
Published: July 30, 2009 9:00 AM
Updated: July 30, 2009 9:32 AM
In the new battle between Smokey and the Bandit, some local drivers are turning to technology to beat the heat.
“I do eight round trips a day on the Pat Bay Highway. I want to know where the police are,” said Ken Murray, who spends eight hours a day behind the wheel, delivering auto parts for a wholesaler.
Murray is one of about ten people in Victoria using an Internet tool called Trapster to warn others about where police have staked out speed traps.
“Because I’m spending so much time on the highway, I find I get so used to what I’m doing I start to lose track of how fast I’m going. When my phone starts yelling at me saying ‘Police often hide here,’ ... it catches my attention, I look at my speed and I slow down,” he said.
On GPS-equipped smartphones, like Murray’s, a downloadable application tracks the user’s location and sends back a map with icons pinpointing where other users have reported speed traps, red light cameras and roadblocks.
For those who own regular cellphones, Trapster also sends out SMS text messages of new reports, which Murray has used to set up a Twitter feed updating trap reports as they come in (@vicspeedtraps).
Reports also show on a web-based map at Trapster - Speed Trap Sharing System.
Murray said the service’s warnings help him keep his speed in check. It’s not about avoiding police, for him though he acknowledged that’s not the case for everyone who uses the service.
Knowing that people are sharing information about the location of speed traps or roadblocks won’t change how police select those sites, said Saanich police Const. Paul Lamoureux.
Still, he said there is a concern people could use such a service to break the law.
“If people are at a party and they’re drinking and they’re planning on driving home drunk, are these people going to these websites before they drive home and look and see where the roadblocks are? I don’t know how many people do that.”
One Trapster user, who responded to the News by e-mail but didn’t provide a name, said he works as a downtown bartender and uses the site “to try provide incentive to intoxicated customers to take cabs (or) designated driver services.”
If that’s the case, and the site increases awareness that police are out there, Lamoureux said it may prove helpful.
But he also noted that roadblocks are just part of the police presence on the streets and patrol units circulate “24-7.”
“While (impaired drivers) might know where one group of police officers are conducting a roadblock, they may take a sideroad and run into a cop on a sideroad.”