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Police caution drivers about red light camera phone apps

Police caution drivers about red light camera phone apps

CREATED Jun 8, 2011

Reporter: Ian Reitz
Web Producer: Layla Tang

TUCSON (KGUN9-TV) - Smart phone applications aimed at alerting drivers to speed zones or red light enforcement cameras are causing a bit of a stir. But, it's not the information found in the phone apps that has police cautioning drivers.

First, law enforcement turned to technology to catch drivers breaking the law, by enlisting the help of cameras that snap photos of drivers who speed or run red lights. Now, drivers are using technology to beat the cameras. Drivers can pull up locations of the cameras on their smart phones thanks to new applications. This has cops concerned, but not for the reason you may think.

"Our main concern now is that people are using iPhones while driving, trying to locate speed vans, which cause a much greater problem than you might imagine," said Tucson Police Sgt. Tim Beam.

In 2009 alone, 5,400 traffic fatalities were attributed to distracted driving. Beam said the red light camera app is just a new reason for drivers to take their eyes off the road.

"If you've got a vehicle traveling along at 40 miles per hour--traveling almost 70 feet a second--and now they're looking down at their app and not paying attention to the roadway. If you take your eyes off the road for even a couple of seconds, all of a sudden you've traveled 150 feet and not looked up at the roadway, which can cause a great deal of problems for you and other drivers," Sgt. Beam explained.

Police don't have a problem with the app itself. The same information is already available online and on TV. Their message is simple--plan ahead before you hit the road.

"Before you start you trip, if you want to check those apps, go right ahead. At least we've slowed you down and you're a lot safer while you're traveling because you're not using your cell phone while you're moving," Sgt. Beam said.