City Desk

Hate Speed Cameras? There’s An App For That

In good news for the lead-footed, D.C. started reducing the prices for some of its steep traffic camera fines last year. But one app producer wants to help people avoid the tickets entirely.

Inspired by taxi-driving relatives who were seeing their profits eaten up by multiple monthly traffic tickets, Virginia resident Faris Gessese, his brother Joseph, and a hired programmer started working on a traffic camera app for the Washington area three months ago. The recently-released result, DMV Traffic, makes a noise and flashes red when a driver is close to a speed or red light camera.

"The pricing is so high people can't afford it," says Gessese. "So why not warn them 100 yards before those hazardous locations?"

DMV Traffic, which is selling for $1.99 in the app store, costs more than free competitors like PhantomALERT. But Gessese claims his app contains at least 300 more D.C. metro area camera locations than its rivals.

Gessese hopes his app will improve traffic safety, since the stretches of road with cameras are also theoretically some of the most dangerous areas of road. Still, he doesn't think that's the reason the cameras are there. "I really think it's more for revenue than actual safety," he says.

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  • Don

    Several GPS apps have this functionality, including the one I use, Navigon. However you do have to have them open to get the warnings. However I'm not sure I'd trust the iphone's gps and notifications to warn me sufficiently in advance to avoid a speed camera.

  • Brandt Hardin

    Traffic cameras are just another form of Policing for Profit as Capitalism distorts our Justice System. These companies are bottom-feeders and take a 40% cut of the tickets while creating MORE dangerous intersections by fixing the lengths of yellow lights to entrap drivers. You can read about how private companies and crooked politicians have turned our Police forces on their ear in every attempt to squeeze money out of the general public at

  • phillip

    Hi Don-

    I'm the developer/math nerd behind the app. I'd like to give you assurance the app works and reliably notifies you of an upcoming speed camera 95-100 yards in advance. If the camera is on the map and you're approaching it, you'll be warned with lots of time to react.

    The app incorporates a new software algorithm I developed over six months which improves the accuracy of the GPS of mobile phones pretty dramatically. I originally developed it as a better tracking app for my running paths, so It's accurate to within 1 meter for any place in the DMV area. Also, the algorithm can monitor your proximity to thousands of points simultaneously vs. only a few dozen for competitors. This is because the algorithm doesn't use any of the standard battery-hungry and normal Apple GPS features to operate (and Apple was very much ok with the new approach, too!) That means the app can track ALL of the camera locations in the DMV area, instead of a chosen few at the most trafficked intersections.

    In this version you have to have the app open, which is a bummer. You can still receive calls, etc. but it does have to remain open to operate. The good news is I'm close to releasing a version with full background operation, speeding warnings and auto-shutoff if you're not driving (which keeps your battery alive longer). It will be available soon.

    Try the app. We use it every day.

  • Anon12

    Or you can just use Waze which is free and has all the cameras in the region and is updated freqently by a lot of the local news stations. Plus its got the best traffic avoidance around.

  • Hennry

    Here are cheap and easy engineering/design fixes that should be tried, without further delay, at a city's worst intersections, before putting in red light cameras.

    A. Paint "signal ahead" on the pavement. A study sponsored by your own (FL) DOT found that doing so could cut running by up to 74%.
    B. Make the signal lights bigger in diameter or, add another signal head. A study by the Texas Transp. Institute (TTI) found that doing either one could cut crashes by 47%.
    C. Add backboards to the signal heads. The TTI study found that doing so could cut crashes by 32%.
    D. Install brighter bulbs in the street lights above the dangerous intersections and put up lighted name signs for the cross street there.

  • David

    Is there an Android version or one in the works?

  • phillip


    I just finished the Android prototype. The final version should be ready (after beta testing) in March.


  • Chris

    Hi, Phillip. I can't find the app in the app store. Is it still available?

  • Chris

    Does Waze have a feature where it alerts you that there is a traffic camera? Kinda hard to drive and stare at the app looking for icons.