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Israeli iPhone app reports ‘bad drivers’
By ARIEH O’SULLIVAN / THE MEDIA LINE
"Traffic Observer" turns your cellphone into a dashboard monitor; Its slogan can be roughly translated as “Don’t fume – film.”
Imagine some driver has just cut you off, passing you illegally, speeding off
recklessly, breaking a few traffic laws and generally endangering the public in
Many stressful fellow drivers would probably like to pull
out their handy bazooka and blow him away.
iPhone app for the Kotel released
But a new Israeli-designed
iPhone application lets you take a softer response. Its slogan can be roughly
translated as “Don’t fume – film.”
The free application allows users to
record and report offensive driving. And it’s designed to work autonomously so
the driver doesn’t endanger himself or others by trying to operate a camera
while behind the wheel themselves.
Mediterranean countries are notorious
for their awful drivers. In Israel, around 500 people are killed a year and
about 100,000 are injured.
So, the National Road Safety Committee, a
non-profit organization dedicated to reducing accidents, recently turned to a
Tel Aviv software company to create an application that would let the public get
involved in promoting safer driving.
The firm Zemingo came up with
“Traffic Observer,” an application that allows iPhone users to give bad drivers
their just desserts.
“The idea is very simple,” Tsiki Naftaly, one of
Zemingo’s founders and head of marketing and business development, told The
Media Line. “Everyone at least once in their life has seen an accident or severe
traffic felony, and wishes they could have taken of photo of that perpetrator to
show the police or to publicize it.
“We created an application, which on
one hand helps catch bad drivers on the road and on the other, doesn’t distract
the driver from taking the images,” he said.
The program works by placing
the iPhone on the dashboard where it videotapes the road. To prevent overloading
the hard disk, it saves images in two-minute segments and then records over
“Once you see an accident or a felony, all you have to do is pull
over and click the black button on the phone and it transmits the
You can also add a vocal description. It sends the GPS
location automatically,” Naftaly said.
The data are uploaded to a private
YouTube account where volunteers from the National Road Safety Committee filter
it. The most flagrant cases are sent to police for action. The volunteers track
down the violators of the less severe infractions and replay for them their
recorded driving behavior as an educational tool, Naftaly said.
the application and volunteer network has only been set up in Israel. But
organizations in other countries can easily adapt it for use there. So far,
“tens of thousands” have downloaded the program in the short time it has been
The application has a double use, besides recording proof of
traffic violations that can deter future infractions; it also serves a catharsis
reward to the victims of bad drivers.
“The saying goes ‘Don’t get angry,
get even,’ well this is a way to feel that you got the guy without getting angry
or losing your temper,” Naftaly said.
Since the application surfaced, it
has led to an Internet kangaroo court for violators.
Even some Israeli
news shows have exposed and broadcast traffic violators in an effort to deter
A popular news show on Channel 2 broadcast a video taken by
Traffic Observer of a driver purposely running a red light.
however, may be lagging. An Israel Police spokesman told The Media Line that the
public was allowed to submit cases of bad driving, but had to do so in the form
of a formal complaint, which requires identifying themselves and giving sworn
testimony so that it can be used in a traffic court.
The spokesman added
that he was unaware of the application yet, but welcomed the idea.