Automotive App of the Week: Fail Driver
Ever feel simultaneously enraged and frustrated that you can't do anything when someone cuts you off on the freeway? Or when you see someone chuck trash out the window or back up traffic for blocks while trying to parallel parking? Sure, you can blow your horn, give them the New York salute or even go all Jack Nicholson on them.
Or you could use the Fail Driver iPhone app to get some sense of satisfaction and revenge by reporting the idiots for violating a variety of automotive infractions. The free iPhone app and accompanying website uses crowd-sourcing to publicly out bad behind the wheel behavior by allowing users to fill in info about an incident or even snap a picture of the offending vehicle and submit it for others with the app or on the site to see. It also lets you search to find out who has been nailed as failed. Or if someone has flagged you as a fail.
Using a Search tab -- one of four along the bottom screen of the app -- you can type in a license-plate number or description, while the adjacent Recent tab shows a list of the latest fails. Tap an item on the list and you get detailed info on the incident. Then a map tab lets you see where it went down and plants a pin at the location, while using the Tell a Friend tab you can email someone about the fail. Turn the phone sideways in the Recent screen and you get a global map showing pushpins of fails on a worldwide scale.
From the Recent or Search screens you can file a Fail Driver report and select from 20 different Event types, ranging from "Hangup and Drive" to "Driving Below the Speed Limit." The categories of "Kudos" and "Vehicle with Character" give credit where it's due, and there's a catchall "Other" category and a self-referential "Using Fail Driver while driving." Separate scrolling categories can also be used to input the country (Afghanistan to Zimbabwe), state or province and locations (either by typing it in or letting the iPhone's GPS capabilities pinpoint it).
The app also gives you the option to add a description of the event, note whether it's in a school zone, describe the vehicle make/model, add an automatic date/time stamp and type in a driver description. It also has a convenient "Tap to Add Photo" icon.
Using the Alert Me tab, you can enter up to four license plate numbers and receive an email when someone submits a report -- about you or someone you know.
The app allowed me vent on one of my pet peeves when I came up on the rear end of a car cruising way below the speed of traffic in the fast lane of a freeway. Turns out it was an unmarked police car that was out of its jurisdiction, and had no regard for the dozens of cars stacked up behind it.
Since using the app is dangerous at any speed, I had my passenger type in the info on the car, the incident and where it happened into the app and I felt a little bit better. And reporting the cop as a Fail Driver was probably much better than giving him the finger.