Payin’ Paper – and How to Avoid Getting it…

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Most speed traps involve a stationary patrol car and a radar gun. And radar can’t single out a particular car in a pack of fast-moving vehicles. It’s up to the cop to choose which vehicle he’s going to go after. Nine times out of ten, it isn’t going to be the off-white minivan to your left or the silver pick-up on your right. It’s gonna be you, amigo – if you’re the pilot of a cherry red Mustang GT or glistening black Cadillac Escalade with chromed to the max 20-inch ree-uhms.

It’s not fair, but it is reality

Visibility is key.

The more you avoid being noticed, the less likely you are to get a ticket. Even if you are “speeding.”    

Not only are you more likely to be pulled over if you’re driving a high-visibility car, you’re also more likely to feel the full extent of the law as well. The dude doing 64 in a 55 in his Mrs. Doubtfire-looking  Camry stands a decent chance of getting off with just a warning. Or getting the cop to knock it down to 60. But the young kid in the wasp yellow EVO with a three foot wing on the trunk doing exactly the same thing can expect to be written up for every single MPH the cop can throw at him – with maybe a seatbelt violation tossed in for good measure.

Again, it ain’t fair – but it is reality. 

The cop is going to assume you’re a Regular Violator – and use this opportunity to chew on you a bit. It’s not unlike the difference in treatment you know you’ll get if you apply for a loan dressed like Bob Marley vs. one of the suits from “Mad Men.”

Run silent, run deep.

Which means:

* Avoid driving a car that looks like a street racer – 

Muscle cars, imports sport compacts with four inch exhaust tips and 20 inch wheels. You see where I’m headed here. They draw the attention of cops like a Night Train sale at 7-11 draws derelicts. Some current muscle coupes can be ordered in low profile form. For example, on the Mustang GT, you can “delete option” the rear spoiler. Or just delete it yourself. Most unbolt in minutes and the truth is they serve no meaningful function on a street car anyhow. 

Don’t add clear-lense tail lights, chromed-out ree-uhms  and similar crap to your car, either. All that junk is just for show – and does nothing for go. If you’re smart and want to actually use your machine, advertising its capability (and your likely intent)  is the last thing you should want to do.

* Avoid bright colors – 

They make you more visible – especially when moving fast relative to surrounding traffic. Silvers, greys and dark greens help you fade into the pack. There is a reason why unmarked cop cars are typically painted one of those colors. It’s called camouflage. If you don’t get noticed – or don’t get noticed first – your chances of getting tagged with a ticket drop significantly.

* Avoid coupes – 

This kind of sucks, but again, it’s reality. 

Two-door cars get eyeballed more by cops, reflexively, because two-door cars project “sporty” – which to a cop means “speeder.” Coupes also tend to cost more to insure because (go to the head of the class) people who drive two-door cars tend to get more tickets than people who own four-door cars. Bottom line: Cops just don’t pay as much attention to a bland-colored, nothing-special-looking four door – even if happens to a 150-mph capable four door, such as a BMW M5 or even a T6 Volvo. 

One upside to Today vs. Yesterday is that you’ve got a lot of quiet-looking but extremely quick and capable machinery to choose from. Back in the Day (my day, the ’70s and ’80s) if you wanted something fast, you pretty much had to buy a two-door muscle coupe or other obvious hot rod guaranteed to draw the notice of every cop in town. Now, there are 365 hp Taurus SHOs and similar stuff that have 100-plus more hp than the Corvettes and 911s of the Reagan Years and which are much safer to actually use than a new 911 or Corvette. I’m telling you all this as someone who test drives a new car every week – all types – and I will tell you, from direct, personal experience, that you can get away with a lot more in a car that doesn’t look especially fast, or automatically draw the attention of cops, than one that does.        

You may feel older driving a car with less obvious attitude – but you’ll be hassled less by the Man.

Of course, Clover would just say, “drive the speed limit and you’ll never get a ticket.” But if you’re reading this, you’re probably not a Clover! 

Throw it in the Woods?


    • I can amen this.

      I’ve been a car journalist for 20 years. Which means, I get to test drive all sorts of cars – everything from the mundane to the exotic. I know from first-hand experience that the make/model car you’re driving matters almost as much as your actual driving as far as the likelihood of your being selected for application of the road tax (i.e, issued a ticket) as well as the extent to which you’ll be made an example of.

      I’ve learned that you can much more easily “get away” with exceeding the speed limit in, say, a Camry or Accord (especially if it’s white or green, etc.) vs. a bright yellow or red Porsche or Corvette (and so on).

      Why? Because cops – like any other predator – focus on specific prey. And to a great extent, the thing that results in a ticket is not your speed. It’s whether you’ve first drawn attention to your car.

      A few years back, I read an article about a smart guy who took an older Volvo V70 wagon and slipped a complete late-model Corvette drivetrain underneath it.

      I’d much rather have a car like that than an actual Corvette.

      • Yep, enforcement is social and selective. Conform and be like everyone else and you’ll largely be left alone.

        The differences in how I am treated between my vehicles is incredible. I drive them all the same way, including the bicycles. The car I have that looks like untold millions of others on the road does not get a second glance.

        What I find humorous about the cameras is that they do not discriminate socially. The systems are usually operated with a guy rubber stamping if a human is involved at all. The end result is all these ‘law is the law, haven’t got a ticket in 30 years’ people are getting tickets and makes them angry. I find it funny. They’ve always been breaking the law, always been speeding, always been not coming to a complete stop, or missing the yellow by a little bit, it is just no human cop ever enforced it on them because of their appearance. Hence no camera enforcement system has ever won a popular vote. Of course they find the fault with just the automated ticketing. The social ticketing is still ok by the masses. It’s just hilarious.

  1. Excellent info, K – thanks!

    I guess the good news is (hopefully) many departments can’t afford the latest equipment, including detector detectors. And I agree that using your own radar – situation awareness and common sense – in addition to a good unit such as the V1 – makes all the difference in the world!

  2. Unfortunetly the newest radars CAN measure the speed of multiple targets as well distinguish the fastest one and the one with the strongest signal. From the website
    Stalker DSR 2X features
    • Rear Traffic Alert Warning
    • Simultaneously Measures
    2 to 4 Targets
    • VSS Patrol Speed Mode
    • Direction Sensing Technology
    • Automatic Same-Lane Tracking
    • Stationary Direction Control
    (Closing, Going Away, or Both)
    • Strongest & Faster Targets
    Are Simultaneously Displayed
    • Strongest & Faster Targets Can Be Individually Locked
    • Voice Verification of Locked Targets
    • Stop Watch Mode
    • RFI Immune Digital Antennas
    • Backlit, Cordless IR Remote
    • Detachable, Multi-Colored
    • True Waterproof Antennas
    • True Audio Doppler Tones
    • Digital Signal Processing
    • Microstrip Antenna Design
    • Software Controlled and Upgradeable.

    Then there’s the lasers to consider. They work only stationary (thank god) but they you clock nearly instantaneously and there’s no way to recive a heads up on your detector like you would when an instant on radar clocks the vehicle ahead of you.
    Some laws of physics work in the mororists favor. Smaller and more areodynamic tagets have much smaller radar cross sections. Less chrome and glass go a long way twoards reducing the amount of light relected by your car. Removing the front license plate is a huge gain. a decent coating of winter road grime is a bit of a plus. Most cops will shoot every car at about the same distance without considering the details. That’s where you can save yourself. Using my valentine one as a rough measure I figure that my old ford aspire (no chrome, dull paint and a rounded body style) didn’t return a usable signal until it was 2/3rds of the distance closer to the cop than when he first lased me. A V-1 gives a 5 sec alarm for laser and mine would alarm for a full 15 seconds indicating that the cop had to lase me 3 times in order to determine my speed. In the meantime I was decelerating and not getting a ticket.
    Reducing the signal that your vehicle returns to the speed measuring device is key. Laser in the 904 nanometer range and microwaves in the X K and Ka bands all behave the same. (they’re all emitted radiation) The inverse square law of radiated energy roughly states that doubling the distance from the source decreases the recived radiation by a factor of ten.
    To sumarize, smaller car, less chrome and glass, lose the plate, cover the headlights for daylight driving (they sell smoked plastic for this purpose)dirty dull paint and get a good dectector.

    When I’m in road trip mode I’m listening to the truckers on a CB, running a Valentine V-1 and the front plate is off the minute I cross my state line. (another state can’t enforce my state’s front plate law)

    • I guess I would rather use common sense than trying to trick detection. I would rather be more than 10 miles down the road while someone else exits the interstate and spends the time to remove the plate and spend the extra time and gas to do so. With my way of driving, I save a lot of fuel and it takes someone an hour to catch up to me using a lot more fuel and still risking a ticket.

      • Clovers, by definition, are common-sense impaired! They moo like lovesick dairy cows at any and all laws; they drool like Pavlov’s dogs over any and all speed limit signs, because (to a Clover) a speed limit is by definition always and everywhere the exactly right speed and to ever drive faster is, by definition, dangerous. Clovers also believe that government is benevolent and wise – because it’s the government! And the government never makes errors, or commits malicious acts. It is there to protect us! Clovers thus make excellent fodder – though they must be ground carefully, well-seasoned and thoroughly cooked first…

    • “Then there’s the lasers to consider. They work only stationary (thank god) but they you clock nearly instantaneously and there’s no way to recive a heads up on your detector like you would when an instant on radar clocks the vehicle ahead of you.” I thought this was how the lasers ones work? On my V1 I get the laser alert from the scatter when they shoot the car in front me.

      Wait.. I’m getting something! Yep, I’m detecting a Clover making asinine remarks

  3. Dammit, back in a few hours. I’ll be outside removing my tint, stickers, spoilers, neon under body light, wig wag head light kit, 4″ exhaust tip, smoked tail light covers, and some other crap that also needs to go.. Oh wait, nevermind. I already learned this lesson long ago. Hopefully this write-up reaches some that can still benefit from it.

    All that crap is just asking for trouble and most the time by the exact people that make it! It’s kind of like telling on yourself for being an idiot!


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