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Technological Highway Vigilantes in Your Future?



A vigilante is a self-appointed doer of justice. Get ready, because you are about meet them on the nation's highways. Drive Me Crazy is a new cell phone application that encourages drivers to record the license plate numbers of vehicles that are being operated in an unsafe manner. The driver of the vehicle is then "flagged" and receives a "virtual ticket" courtesy of the reporting driver.

At first glance, this will probably have as much effect on aggressive drivers as waving an index finger at them and saying, "Tsk, tsk." This virtual ticket, however, carries some extra baggage. All the information, including the identity of the offending driver, is sent to the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) and insurance companies. Vigilante justice, courtesy of modern technology.

How Can The Drive Me Crazy App Eliminate Aggressive Driving?

The application's developer believes that part of the cause of aggressive driving is driver anonymity. Unless there happens to be state trooper car cruising in the vicinity, we can pretty much get away with anything we want on the highway. Police report approximately 35 million traffic violations, out of which only 10 million are reported to the DMV, according to the developer. It expects Drive Me Crazy to provide a much larger database.

While the idea has some merit, there are concerns for abuse as well. Flagging a driver for cutting off another vehicle or weaving in and out of traffic? Definitely worthwhile. But what happens if someone does not like the college football team on your bumper sticker?

The company admits there will be what they call "noise" in the data. That is another word for getting flagged for no good reason. It expects that it can sort good flags from malicious flags by mathematical algorithms that track a flagger's reports. Multiple flags of one driver by the same user are also supposed to be ignored.

Drivers will also be able to report safe drivers. Whether this will have a beneficial effect on one's insurance rates is unknown. The app also provides an opportunity to flirt with other drivers who have set up a profile on the system. Welcome to driving in the information age.