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Driving Loaded? There’s an App for That

Senators were shocked to learn that dozens of applications allow the intoxicated smartphone owner to avoid user-reported speed traps and radar-equipped patrol cars.

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Smartphones double as cop alert systems.
Photo via toughsledding.

By Donel DeFreese

04/13/11

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Think what Hunter Thompson could have done with one of these babies. There’s an app for mixing cocktails, and an app for finding bars on the road, so it’s not surprising to discover there’s an app for intoxicated drivers. Four U.S. Senators--Harry Reid (D-NV), Charles Schumer (D-NY), Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ), and Tom Udall [D-NM--have all expressed concern over smartphone applications that allow drivers to avoid DUI checkpoints, and have called for their removal from app stores. The indignant senators sent letters to the head of Apple's iPhone software group, Scott Forstall; Google's CEO Eric Schmidt; and Research in Motion's (RIM) co-CEOs, James Balsillie and Michael Lazaridis, Computerworld reports. The senators identified only one application by name—PhantomALERT--but Computerworld says there are dozens of apps designed to warn drivers of user-reported speed traps, roving radar-equipped patrol cars, and accidents. Many integrate the smartphone's integrated GPS feature to display police and accident locations. "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 in a letter to the executives. "We hope that you will give our request to remove these applications from your store immediate consideration." In 2010 alone, 10,839 people died in alcohol-impaired driving crashes, and over a quarter of a million people are injured in drunk-driving accidents each year.

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