Should Citizens Use Phones to Report Traffic Violations?

Some communities will let private citizens upload pictures of traffic violations..what’s next?

source: attorneypaulhanson.com. A new spin on handheld phones!

Dear Ms. Smartphone: I read an article about people using smartphones to take pictures of traffic violations, and then forwarding these pictures to a city department that will issue tickets. Is everyone going to be reporting everyone else? Do you think this is a good use of our smartphones? Gregor, Marin City

Dear Gregor : In this case, the devil will be in the details. The NYT article reports that law enforcement officials in Washington, DC are considering this program because traffic fatalities and serious injuries have been on the rise since 2015. (Speculation here, but is this related to more distracted driving and cell phones?)

The article states that only Malibu, Ca. is doing citizen ticketing today. Local volunteers get 96+ hours of training with the LA County Sheriff’s Department. Meanwhile, many cities use ‘411′ type apps that let citizens upload photos of downed tree limbs, potholes, scooter violations, etc. The next step could be traffic violations. But this assumes that time stamps, geocoding, and levels of official review and appeals all support each other. It is a brave new world of smartphones.

Adding up ScreenTime: Does Meditation App Count?

A reader wants to exclude her meditation app from the count of how much time she spends online…

Can you subtract yoga/meditation/”me” time?

Dear Ms. Smartphone: I plan to set a good example for my teens and show them how to monitor their screentime. I have begun with an app that reports my total time spent online each Sunday. My issue is that I do guided meditation through a phone app. It’s at least a half-hour daily and that is bulking up my screen time. Do I have to count the time spent with the meditation app? Marnie, Newton

Dear Marnie: First of all, accolades for tracking your screen time and for helping your children do the same thing. Readers will find links to these tracking apps on the DearSmartphone resource page. Apparently, there is no way to exclude an app and even Google navigation, say used during a car commute, gets counted. The good news is that the app records your usage in granular detail, so when you talk about it with your kids, you can show them the average time you spend by category: for example, social media, meditation, shopping, and navigation. And, you can watch their usage as well. Muse onward!

Is Passenger Phone Safe to Answer?

Driver Distraction…Phones gone Bad.

Dear Ms. Smartphone: I noticed that you often take questions about drivers using phones. How about the case when a passenger uses their phone in the car, but someone else is driving them? Is this a safety issue or is it OK to do? TT, San Francisco

Dear TT: You question caught me off-guard, probably because I’ve seen all those movies where the hurried passenger in a taxi places call after call. Surprising, at least to me, it that it is not a good idea to make a call as a passenger. The literature says that overhearing only half of a conversation—a halfalogue”—is more distracting than other kinds of conversations because the listener misses the other side of the story. It’s serious: in the UK, passengers who take a phone call face a fine if they are training a new driver. Phones down. Thanks for elucidating me!