UPDATE: PhantomALERT has “Alerted” us to the fact that its app is still available through the Apple app store and has been determined that it does not provide any information that is not also available through law enforcement agencies, so it has apparently been cleared to remain available.
There are millions of applications offered for cell phones these days. There is no doubt some of the apps indeed benefit people, but on the contrary may cross the line and actually cause harm. The latter is where several lawmakers stand with apps like PhantomALERT, which lets drivers know where DUI checkpoints, speed traps, and red light cameras are located, citing it as an app that may actually promote drunk driving.
Four senators; Harry Reid of Nevada, Charles Schumer of New York, Tom Udall of New Mexico, and Frank Lautenberg of New Jersey, sent a letter to Apple, among others such as Google and RIM, maker of BlackBerry, asking they alter or quit selling the app and other like it, saying it helps drunk drivers evade police.
PhantomALERT CEO Joseph Scott believes the senators are looking at it completely wrong, saying “when drivers get alerts for DUI checkpoints on their smart phones and GPS, they will think twice about drinking and driving.” The Phantom Alert service is free to try, and then it will cost either $10 a month or $29.99 for a year. There are similar apps, most notably Trapster, which is free, but it doesn’t offer as wide of a range of services as PhantomALERT.
Scott may have a point, as PhantomALERT is completely legal and there are some in law enforcement who don’t have a problem with the app. According to an Arlington Virginia County Police spokesperson, “We are not against them… part of the actual enforcement “DUI” is the campaign to tell people to stop driving while intoxicated … and we push out information that says where DUI checkpoints will be and an application that tell you the same thing we already do.”
More than 10,000 Americans die each year from DUI-related accidents. There is no question that something must be done to decrease this very high number, but are apps like PhantomALERT really the answer? Certain lawmakers don’t think so, do you?