A popular phone app could help you avoid a pricey speeding ticket. Sounds like the kind of program police wouldn't embrace, but that's not necessarily the case.
When Art Acevedo took over as Austin police chief, one of his first orders of business was to eliminate the daily news releases about where APD was running radar. However, the Travis County Sheriff's office is embracing new technology and the concept that the more information the public has, the safer the roads will be.
It's not uncommon to see law enforcement officers armed with radar guns aimed at oncoming drivers. Now with a simple check of the Trapster app on a 3-G phone or by going on line, Central Texas drivers can know in advance where deputies with the Travis County Sheriff's Office will be running radar.
"It's simply a way for us to communicate with the public the areas where they need to slow down and comply with the speed laws. The added benefit is notifying people if there is some change in the road conditions that affects their safe driving," said Roger Wade, the public information officer for the Travis County Sheriff's Office.
The Trapster App also alerts drivers to flooded roadways or accidents that could delay their trip, but the main focus is on radar detection.
"The bottom line is we want to make the roads safer for Travis County and this is another tool that will do that," said Wade.
The question seems to be whether it's better to let the public know where radar is being run or not. Austin Police Chief Art Acevedo prefers not to give advance notice.
"It kind of defeats the purpose of being out there," said Acevedo. "We want people to know that we were working it but telling them the specific roadways was a little counterproductive for us."
Drivers we spoke to were split.
"Yeah I think it is a good idea and I probably would use it," said John Egan.
"If you know we are running late for work or if I am in a hurry, we would want to know there is going to be a cop around the corner. I will slow down," said Sean Munoz.
"Some people are going to have radar detectors anyway and they are going to find out if they want to find out," said Diane from Austin. "But most people are not going to take the time to look into something."
Drivers can add data to Trapster, just like the Travis County Sheriff's office does -- but if it's inaccurate, it can be taken down. By the way, Roger Wade tells us his office doesn't make any money off Trapster. The app is free of charge.