If you have Google Maps, you may soon notice a new feature that will alert you if a “speed trap” is ahead.
Android devices already have the feature, and Google Product Manager Sandra Tseng said the feature is rolling out on iOS devices.
Buchanan County Sheriff’s Department Capt. Thomas Cates said he’s seen the new feature in action himself.
“People use Google Maps and all types of mapping software frequently out in the county,” Cates said. “It says there’s a certain speed trap on a particular highway.”
Missouri State Highway Patrol Sergeant Jake Angle said he’s aware of the feature, but doesn’t expect it to make much of a difference in the patrol’s operations.
“I have to be honest I haven’t really seen it (impact us),” Angle said. “Our mission is pretty clear cut: it’s highway safety, plain and simple.”
But it’s not just rhetoric. Angle said the idea of a “speed trap” is often just that — an idea.
“Easily, 95 percent of our enforcement is moving radar,” Angle said. “So we’re not ever really sitting in one location.”
“Whether Google or any other app is putting our locations out there, it doesn’t really deter what we do,” he said. “We do some stationary enforcement, obviousl,y but the bulk of it is done as moving enforcement.”
Cates said the Sheriff’s Department also doesn’t adhere to the Hollywood idea of speed traps.
“It’s kind of a misnomer in this jurisdiction,” he said. “All of our traffic enforcement is safety-minded, where our cars are staying mobile or patrolling a particularly dangerous part of the county where we’ve seen accidents.”
“Speed traps as they exist in popular media, they don’t really exist around here,” Cates said.
Both Cates and Angle agreed apps like Google Maps can be beneficial for real-time traffic information to avoid congestion, but neither recommended taking your eyes off the road to make a virtual report.
“If there’s an app out there that’s helping people that’s great, but I recommend obeying all traffic laws,” Angle said.
Tseng said Google is just making things easier and giving people options.
“Google Maps has always helped people get from point A to B in the easiest way possible,” Tseng said. “This feature has been one of our most popular on Android, and we’re excited to expand it to iOS.”
Google isn’t the first app to add the feature, Waze has had the feature for some time. Waze was acquired by Google in 2013.
“I still run mapping applications when I’m trying to find certain houses out in the county,” Cates said. “I think anytime you have a real time, third-person view of where you’re going it can keep you safer.”