Friday, 27 November 2015

How To Avoid Speeding Tickets - Technology Being Useful, Don't You Just Love It!

I have a speeding problem. Here's a 39 second video of me speeding!

Here's another 45 second video of me speeding past a red camera!

I'm a good person, honest

I am not someone who speeds. I have kids, I know how dangerous speeding is. I couldn't live with myself if I hurt someone when I was speeding. I pride myself on being a positive part of the community. I'm no hoon!

A picture of a red car going fast through some green woodlands
Speeding Car!

I am Human. I am not a robot

Sometimes, when I am concentrating on one of the many other important tasks necessary to drive safely, other than watching my current speed that is, sometimes just sometimes, my speed creeps up a little. Just a tad. Sometimes it goes just a tiny bit higher than the speed limit. We're talking 69 km/h, at most, in a 60 zone.

"Rules are Rules"

"If you don't want a ticket don't speed"

Yes yes, but I am human. I am not a robot. Sometimes I speed! 
There are tens of cameras surrounding my house like big brother waiting 24/7 for any minor mistake. 
There are hills. Hills that silently, slowly, bit by bit, make me go faster. Even the darn cruise control speeds down hills! 
There are distractions. Distractions that ... What shall we have for dinner tonight ... ... distract you..... 
There are dogs barking in the back. 
There are kids in the back shouting, squabbling over a single peanut. 
There are kids in the back choking, choking on peanuts.
There are kids in the back playing with buttons, playing with stereos, playing with loud games on their phones. 
There are kids in the back asking stupid bloody questions! "Why is Jonny's face all red?"
There are roads that look like they're 60 roads, but a small sign, a sign that you missed, says it's a 50. 
There are tailgaters who beep their horns if you dare go a K lower than the speed limit. 
There are lane swappers who will push in in front of you if you leave a micro millimeter more than a cars length, sometimes less. 
I am human god dam it! I am not a robot. Sometimes I speed!

A photo showing the speedometer in a car
Watch Your Speed

Speeding Tickets

Unfortunately for me I have been human enough to have sped, more than once, past policemen sitting in their cars holding their cameras pointing straight at me. 

Flash! $150 bucks please. 
Flash! Another $150 bucks thank you very much. 

It's like I'm stuck in a bad game of monopoly where I have a dog kennel on Old Kent Road and I'm facing Donald Trump and his city of hotels lined all the way from The Strand to the distant, but ever so enticing, Mayfair! 

Shake - That'll be $700 please. 
Shake - Oh and $950 for that. 
Shake - Oooh that's $2000! 

Thanks. Thanks a lot. Great game. Now piss off.

Help Me! Please, Somebody, Anybody, Help Me!

So, when it comes to speeding, I want to stop, I need to stop, I will stop. 

I have tried a multitude of things. For example, there's a primitive speed alert system built into my 2010 car. It has 3 settings. 60 k, 100 k and 110 k. Do I need to explain how useless it is? Why oh why did anyone think that was a good idea. Did I pay for that when I bought the car!

I've tried telling my passengers that I don't speed, just to reinforce the idea and remove any expectations of not being constantly honked for driving like my grandma and going too slow. It doesn't work.

I've tried relaxation techniques, affirmations, meditation, hypnotism, uppers, downers, electric shock treatment but nothing, nothing works! Somebody! Anybody! Help me!

How to Stop Speeding. The Solution

Fortunately, I have a discovered a solution. A good solution:
Every problem in today's modern world has an app which solves it.

It is my pleasure to introduce you all to 'Sygic's Speed Cameras & Traffic' app!

This is a photo of the Speed Cameras & Traffic app from Sygic. The photo is from the Google App Store
Speed Cameras & Traffic Sygic

Problémo Solvédo.

What does it do? Why this app? What's so great about it? Good Questions, let me explain.

What Does 'Speed Camera & Traffic' App Do?

This app uses the exceedingly accurate GPS on your phone to find out which road you are on and track how fast you are going. It knows the speed limit of the road you are currently driving on. Your speed and the current speed limit are clearly displayed on your phone so you can see them easily. The great thing is, that if/when your speed exceeds the current speed limit a warning message will be blurted out to you. "You are exceeding the speed limit!"

This photo shows a man driving with the Sygic App running on his phone. The current speed and the current speed limit can be seen.
Sygic App in Action

So Why this App: Why Sygic?

Sygic was not the first app I downloaded and installed. It was not the second or third either. I lose count. There were many to choose from, most of them claim to stop you speeding but they just don't work. There is always something that makes the app too much trouble to bother with. Maybe the app works well and good in California, but not so great where you and I live. Maybe it worked last year, but not this year as the developer has gone AWOL as it all got too much. Maybe it worked well but unfortunately the warnings were in Hungarian, great if you are Hungarian, but not so good for the rest of us. 

Some of the apps required a constant data connection. This is fine for some, but not me, too messy. 

This solution needed to be simple and reliable.

So Sygic was the only app I found that:

  • Downloaded speed limits once and
  • Didn't require a constant data connection
  • Maintained accurate speed limits that matched the actual real limit
  • Had current and active support
  • Had sound alerts as well as visual alerts
  • Was as configurable as you would expect from a well designed app
  • And, at the end of the day, actually worked

After all the fuss I had with all the other apps I was quite amazed at how Sygic simply worked. I am confident my mother could use it. That's not an insult, my mother actually loves her technology gadgets, she has tons of them, however she doesn't have the patients of Dr Kildare.

I'm not going to throw in lots of screen shots for you here as the best place to look at the app is on Sygic's website. Go and have a quick look and then come back and listen to me getting excited about emails from the support team and the school zone detection.

School Zones are more important than Police Radars

A photo of a road with School Zone painted accros it warning drivers
One of the better School Zone Signs
Welcome back.

Sygic also manages to warn you about red light cameras and, most crucially, school zones! Let's face it, if you are in an unfamiliar location, maybe a little lost, it is easy miss the small school signs and not realise it is 2:30 pm already. However, with Sygic, a woman's voice (configurable) politely, but abruptly, announces "School zone ahead!" The speed limit is automatically reduced and if you don't slow down you'll get an equally polite and abrupt "You are exceeding the speed limit!". I am not sure if she only shouts out during school times. I will check. I'm afraid I've been too busy driving safely to notice! 

On a very serious note, we can forget about ourselves here for a moment, and how we avoid speeding fines. We should spend a minute and realise that this setup will save lives! It has cost me $6 to buy the app for life, and an old phone, and in return I will no longer speed. Technology being useful, don't you just love it!

Thank you Sygic!

I was, and still am, so excited to get a solution that worked and worked properly that I emailed my gratitude to the support staff to congratulate them. We so often forget to thank strangers when they have helped us. Quick to complain, but slow to compliment. Anyhow. they replied within hours to thank me for my feedback. It is so nice to know there's help on hand if you need it.

This is a photo of the email I sent to Sygic and their reply. My email says thank you for an awesome app. Their reply thanks me for my compliment and lets me know I can contact them any time if I have a question
Sygic Feedback

Practical Tips When Using A Speed Alert App

To get the most from this app here are some practical tips:
  • Plug your car charger into your phone. The app uses a fair amount of power
  • Mount your phone properly in your car
  • Connect your phone via Bluetooth to your car. Alerts will be louder
  • Make sure you set your Location settings on your phone to 'accurate'
    • Open settings on your phone, Find the "Location" entry and tap it
  • Use an old phone, rather than your current phone, as a permanent, dedicated, speed detector
  • Start and stop Sygic automatically when you are driving (it's an option in settings)
  • You do not need to have a data connection i.e. no sim card required! ie no ongoing costs!

My Setup - Use An Old Phone

"I don't have to think. I just drive and if I speed I get told to slow down"

As you may be aware I have just upgraded my phone to a OnePlus 2. It's an awesome phone. This means I have an old spare phone. I decided to put Sygic's app on the old phone rather than the new one. I did this so that I have a permanent dedicated setup in the car. I do not have to do anything when getting in the car. The speed detecting system is always there, it is always charged, it is always watching for my foolish heavy lead foot. It means I don't have to think. I just drive and if I speed I get told to slow down.

Using a spare phone also means, when I am in a friend's cars, my phone will not warn my friend about their speeding. This may or may not be a good thing, but to me it is a little annoying and I get tired of explaining that it was my phone telling them to slow down, not me!

Another reason for using a spare phone is the battery. Sygic can use up a fair amount of juice depending on how you choose to set it up and of course, how much you drive.

From my experience, if you want this to work, I would dedicate an old phone to the task. We have a new 2015 Mazda 3, it has the latest speed detection system in it and it is very good. However the system I have setup in the other car is better. It is more configurable and I can email the support staff with ideas and get prompt responses. 

Seriously though, the configuration of Sygic's app is brilliant. It is intuitive and easy to use. For example, if you don't mind going 2 k over the limit, or maybe 5%, then you can set it up this way. Our Mazda wont do this. It's good, but fairly basic and I don't expect it to be updated every few months.

If you have an old Android phone with Android 4.1 or above on it, or an old iPhone with iOS 8.0 or later then you are in luck. I hope you give it a go.

As I said, the development team support this app really well, so direct any specific questions to them on their website here. If you have any issues setting it up generally then feel free to post me a comment and I will try to help.

I'm a good person, honest

I'm an honest person, so if this solution fails and I get a ticket I will let you know, however I think I may have got my last one! I am now safe to be back on the roads!

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