Smartphone app helps save student from speeding ticket

Motorola Droid

Over at Skatter Tech, Sahas Katta explains how an application on his Smartphone helped exonerate him after he was wrongly accused of speeding last year.

As a brand new Motorola Droid owner, I was in the rush of trying just about every app that appeared in the Android Marketplace. One that particularly stood out and had me excited was My Tracks by Google. This free app records and visualizes your GPS data on a map, which is something I always wanted to try. I began using app while jogging, biking to class, and even when driving.

I fortunately happened to have Google Tracks running when an officer cited me for speeding while heading back home from a friend’s place. The speed limit in the area was a mere 25 miles per hour and the cop’s radar gun shockingly clocked me driving over 40 miles per hour. In a panicked mental state, I simply handed over my driver’s license, insurance, and registration information without asking any questions. I was confident that I was within the posted speed limit in the back of my mind, but I just apologized and went my way instead of speaking up.

Once I parked my car in the apartment lot, I immediately realized that I had Google Tracks running as a background process as I reached to grab my phone from the dashboard mount. As I walked in, I pulled up my history for the previous session which displays information such as distance, average speed, average moving speed, and max speed. It even stores maximum and minimum elevation levels for those that need it. More importantly, I found that my phone only recorded a top speed of just 26 miles per hour, significantly lower than the cited speed. I now knew I was not speeding.

— Sahas Katta, “How My Smart Phone Got Me Out Of A Speeding Ticket In Traffic Court” (Feb. 21st, 2011), Skatter Tech

When Katta went to traffic court to challenge his ticket, he cross-examined the officer and got him to admit that he didn’t remember the last time he attended radar gun training, when the device was last calibrated, or the unit’s model number. He then presented a print-out of his My Tracks data to the court as evidence along with testimony about how he obtained the data.

The judge took a moment and declared that I was not guilty, but he had an unusual statement that followed. To avoid any misinterpretations about his ruling, he chose to clarify his decision by citing the lack of evidence on the officer’s part. He mentioned that he was not familiar enough with GPS technology to make a decision based on my evidence, but I can’t help but imagine that it was an important factor.


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