Your smartphone can help you avoid a traffic ticket. We're not kidding, it's true. If your experience tracking traffic on your phone only involves apps that end in "Maps" it's time to step your driver-aid game up. But before we begin, make sure you're keeping your eyes on the road — be sure to have a passenger pilot the app while you drive. It can be very dangerous if you do not.
These days, any old map app can tell you the quickest and most direct way to get somewhere or how congested one route is compared to another. However, the best in the business use crowdsourced data to give you a heads up on speed traps and patrol cars ahead of time.
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This is the idea behind Waze, a helpful navigation app with handy alerts that are gathered from info other Wazers send in. The app itself is free, but you've got to pay to play — you unlock additional Waze features by sending traffic into the app community. Waze has gotten popular enough that legal authorities tried to outlaw it... so it must be working.
Escort Live and Phantom Alert
Escort Live and Phantom Alert are two apps similar to Waze. Escort is free, but its smaller following means data is less consistent than its sister app. Phantom Alert is aimed at users who already have a Garmin or TomTom GPS unit, which the app can sync with. It does, however, cost $10.
Park Mobile and Spot Hero
Avoiding tickets isn't just about dodging squad cars though, anyone who's lived in the city knows that finding a place to park can go from easy chore to hour-long odyssey when things get tight. Park mobile and Spot Hero help you find and keep a good spot.
Park Mobile allows you to pay for your digital meter through your app, and it alerts you when the time is running out. Spot Hero helps you find and reserve a spot, although some users report stability issues that have earned the app low reviews.
Uber and Layr
Ride sharing is a definite way to avoid the stresses of police and parking. Uber offers cheap rides and upscale limousine service at the push of a button. Drivers are vetted before they can work, and you can see how each driver is rated before accepting a rid. Just make sure you're aware if surge pricing is in place — you'll pay for it.
An up-and-comer in the driver-aid app category is Layr, while it's still early in development, this clever app connects info from weather and traffic reports with your personal favorites from social media to deliver customized driving instructions. Nifty, right?
So give Siri a rest and try out something new — it just might save you some change.