Drivers detour around police using high-tech apps

Drivers looking to avoid pricey citations for traffic offenses such as red-light camera violations and speed trap busts are turning to technology to level the playing field.

As red-light cameras proliferate around the United States and cash-starved police agencies pump up coffers with traffic ticket revenue, many drivers are using devices and applications that give them a heads-up when it's time to stop or slow down. Among them: Cobra's iRadar, which can connect with an iPhone; Trapster, an application that relies on information reported by other users, and Fuzz Alert, which works with iPhones and iPads.

One of the most popular is PhantomAlert, an online database that drivers can download to GPS devices or smartphones. It uses audible alerts to warn drivers about everything from speed and red-light cameras to speed traps, school zones and DUI checkpoints.

The devices' DUI checkpoint feature - which sends alerts about drunken driving locations that have been reported by other drivers - is troubling for some police agencies. "If people are going to use those, what other purpose are they going to use them for except to drink and drive?" says Capt. Paul Starks of the Montgomery County (Md.) Police Department.

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