There are few things in life which are guaranteed to make us mad in the way that speeding tickets, traffic jams and accidents tend to do.
A brush with the law, a costly accident or time stuck in total gridlock is guaranteed to ruin your day whenever it happens.
How many times have you wished that you could have had a way of avoiding such annoying and distressing situations? These days our smartphones give us a few different options for trying to drive without these hassles but it can be difficult to know which one to trust.
In the search for a legal and trustworthy solution to this issue we determined there are many different approaches have been taken. However, one which is regarded by many as probably the most convenient and safe to use is called PhantomALERT. This is a smartphone app which has a large database of red lights, speed traps, dangerous intersections, school zones and other issues that drivers should be aware of.
The concept is based on a database of over 400,000 law enforcement locations and areas has been built up with the help of users of the app ("crowdsourcing"), who have added on new details as they have come across them. In fact, if you start to use it then you can do your bit to help others by noting any new cameras or traps which are added to the roads you travel on. In addition, there are currently 15,000 live camera images which will appear on your screen when you get close to one of the areas being monitored.
Below is the advertised claims by the company
Perhaps the one of the biggest claims to this type of smartphone apps is that it allows you to drive in a safe and controlled way AND is 100% legal to use. Based on my research and use, there wasn't much of a need to worry about doing something illegal or which the local police might frown upon if they found out about it. I've discovered that most of the time, wherever you go in the US and Canada, you can trust PhantomALERT to keep you aware of the possible dangers ahead of you without infringing upon the law. What this means for you in real terms is that you can reduce your anxiety about being surprised by police and having to pay those ridiculous speeding tickets. You can also be alerted to hitting large bumps on roads which are known to be dangerous for one reason or another.
A good example of someone who used this product in their day to day life comes from a Toronto Star reporter and satisfied user Gabor Sarvary. Among his comments perhaps the most important is that “it's really helpful to drive more safely”.
“It's all thanks to a program called PhantomALERT. The system contains a database of speed traps, red-light cameras and alcohol check stops, information that is then fed into its subscribers' GPS systems. When I got within 250 metres of a speed trap, the system beeps, telling me to slow down.”
- Gabor Sarvary (Toronto Star Reporter)
Another example comes from current and retired traffic officers. They have been quoted as saying that the app is worth using. For instance, Sergeant Tim Burrow is a traffic office in the Toronto area and he said that he has “no problem with it whatsoever” and that the police themselves like drivers to know where they are carrying out checks, as this encourages them to drive more safely.
“PhantomAlert essentially does the same thing that police do before a photo radar blitz or a crackdown on impaired driving. By advertising the locations of photo radar and check stops, the system encourages its users to avoid drinking and driving, or slow down in the area.”
- Sgt. Tim Burrows
I found a few others comments on the Apple App Store along similar lines, saying that it is a “necessary tool for drivers”, Carter3003 says simply “am loving the new app”. On the PhantomALERT site Amy G confirms that for her it has become a “very useful service”.
A few police officers, such as Ontario Provincial Police Sgt. Dave Woodford, mentioned they don't think PhantomAlert would be 100% effective because "We're always on the move when we run radar," meaning that, by the time the database is updated with a new photo radar location, the officer has probably moved on. Some other people have mentioned this but while using this product for over a year, I've found most police stick to similar locales over time. Having the heads up beforehand is still beneficial.
Another area about this app which has raised some concerns with users is the fact that it is no longer free. This is the most likely form of criticism I've found on the likes of Apple's App Store. Comments like "It would certainly be fantastic is the PhantomALERT app went back to being free again". However, on the plus side, if it saves you from just one speeding ticket or accident then it will have paid for itself.
The other issue you might come across is that of new locations which aren’t saved yet. As more and more people across North America use it this should become less common, as they all add on the details of any new control points they come across. However, if you drive around a lot then you might find that you occasionally need to add some new details to the database as you do so.
If you like the sound of this app then you can try it out on a trial basis for 30 days without any cost. Careful drivers are likely to want to take out the full package once they see how useful it is and there are a few different options for doing so. The best approach for a long term user would be to pay $44 for lifetime access to the database, although this is currently noted as an introductory offer which not be around forever. Other than that, you could pay for a year’s worth of the service or use it on a monthly basis as well.
The PhantomALERT app performs well and what you would expect from this sort of service. The fact that this is the world’s biggest verifiable database of speed traps, red lights and other possible hazards means that it is a good choice to make for anyone who wants to stay on the right side of the law. Whether you are frequently landed with tickets and fines, this could be one of the better purchases you make for both your wallet and your personal safety.