Knowing what laws apply as you travel in the United States is a lot easier with a new mobile application that allows you to find the state laws for the places you’re visiting. You can even compare laws between two places.
- Pedestrians in crosswalks
- Car seats
- Seat belts
- Railroad crossing
- Default speed limits
- Cell phones and driving
You can also learn about state laws for:
- Substances (marijuana, alcohol, open containers, and purchase of alcohol)
- Firearms (concealed carry with/without permit, carrying pepper spray/taser, tear gas/mace, and open carry)
Background on the App
I learned about Mr. Meaner from my friend David Brooks of Northward Compass who worked on the project. His client, who was familiar with Illinois traffic laws, came up with the idea of the app after receiving a ticket in California.
With other people reporting similar stories, why not create an app that helps people stay legal when they travel to other states?
The client approached Brooks with the idea, and Northward Compass designed and launched the app.
According to Brooks, the app is loosely built on the Ionic framework. There’s a SLIM PHP API to deliver JSON. Major user experience updates are expected in version 2 of Mr. Meaner.
Installing and Using Mr. Meaner
Since I frequently drive to Ilinois, Ohio, and Indiana, I was anxious to try out Mr. Meaner.
The app installed quickly on my Nexus 7 tablet, and I was happy to see it didn’t request a lot of permissions.
The interface is simple to use. Choose the state from a drop down menu and select Get Started to view the laws for a specific state.
By default, you’re presented with the transit, animals, substances and firearms laws for that state.
Selecting the Menu option allows you to choose Filters to remove the categories you don’t want to see.
To add another state, use the + option to select a state from the drop down menu.
I was surprised to discover subtle differences between the laws in Michigan (where I live) and Illinois.
For example, in Illinois, seat belts are required for everyone. Michigan only requires seat belts for people in the front seat and everyone under 16 years old. I thought seat belts were required for everyone in Michigan.
Also, Illinois bans handheld use and texting for drivers while Michigan only prohibits texting.
I could have used the Mr. Meaner app last week when I was driving in Ontario, Canada and didn’t know what laws applied. I always wear my seat belt, but didn’t know about cell phone usage laws. So I only used my cell phone when I was a passenger.
Unfortunately, Mr. Meaner only covers the United States. I’m hoping Canada will be included in a future update.
I was curious about the name of the app, so I asked David. He explained it’s a play on words and related to how some people try to say or spell
After deleting many apps recently, I’m more mindful about what apps I install on my phone and tablet. I found I was adding apps people recommended, but never used the apps.
Given the amount of travel I do, I’ll be keeping the Mr. Meaner app. It provides helpful information to me in a clean and easy-to-use interface. My only wish is for Mr. Meaner to expand the features to include the provinces in Canada.