Things To Know About Radar Detectors … and Police Radar

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Radar detectors, like bulletproof vests, don’t make you invulnerable. They improve yours odds. And like a bulletproof vest, the more you know about your radar detector’s capabilities – and vulnerabilities – the better off you’ll be. Here are some things worth knowing:porker running radar

* Radar detectors usually can’t pick up “instant on” radar… until it’s too late –

One of the ways police foil radar detectors is by not giving them a steady signal to detect  – which gives you less time to react. Instead of lurking by the side of the road with his radar on, waiting for you like a venus fly trap, the cop will wait for you to get physically close and then blast you with his radar – hitting you praying mantis-style. Your detector erupts, but it’s too late to brake. The cop’s radar already got you.

The good news:

Instant on is one-victim-at-a-time. You are most vulnerable when you’re the only car on the road (not counting the cop). And when you’re the first car in line. It’s like being targeted by a sniper. But if you’re the second car in line, your detector will detect the instant-on pulse in time enough to scrub speed. Besides which, the cop is probably focused on the car ahead anyhow – and not you.

Instant-on radar is also more work for cops – and that is good news for us, because it means they use it less than always-on radar. This is especially true in Virginia, the one state where radar detectors are still illegal; cops assume most people don’t have them – and so rely even less on instant-on. (One exception to this is the Blue Ridge Parkway, a portion of which runs through Virginia and is patrolled by federal Park Police who use instant-on almost exclusively.)

* Sensitivity vs. false alarms – 

There is more “clutter” in the air today than ever before. Even just a decade ago, radar signals pretty much emanated only from cops – and automated doors (as at grocery stores and so on). It was easier for the detector to sift through the chaff and alert you to the real deal. False alarms were fewer. Today, radar emanates from cars – and big rigs, too. If you have a detector, you’ve probably noticed this. All of a sudden, your unit shrieks, the warning lights go off. But where’s the cop? There’s nothing around except that Escalade coming the other way. Or maybe it’s a Peterbuilt.car radar

What gives?

Both (and many more) emit radar, which your detector is detecting. New cars (and big rigs) have collision-avoidance systems that use radar to sense other cars. Problem (for us) is that our detectors can’t – yet – tell the difference between their signal and police radar. You basically have two options. The first is to adjust your unit’s sensitivity (to less sensitive) to reduce the racket and light show. Of course, that makes you more vulnerable to the real deal. The other option is to endure the racket and light show – but the racket and light show makes it harder for you to notice a real threat in time to deal with it effectively.

The good news:

They (the radar detector companies) are working the problem. I know Mike Valentine (V1 radar detectors) personally and have spoken with him about it. They are working on filtering systems that will reduce false alarms considerably. Also, most of the in-car radar currently in use is in K band – which is also used by police. But Ka band is used only by police. If your unit gives you a warning about Ka band, heed it.

* Police radar is very vulnerable to defeat … in court – 

Radar sends out a signal that becomes more diffuse with distance. Unlike laser, radar can’t focus on a particular car in a pack of cars. This is a critical point, legally speaking, in the event you get a radar-based speeding ticket and want to contest it in court. Which you should, every time, even though it’s a hassle. Because every moving violation on your DMV record can and will be used against you… by the insurance mafia. You may have never filed a claim or even had a claim filed against you. But get a ticket or two for “speeding” and it’s very likely you’ll be tagged with a rate increase that will last for years, on top of the fine you already paid to the state.porker on a bridge

Back to your defense. Using mine as an example:

Last sumer, I was out riding motorcycles with three friends. A cop coming the other way lit us up and pulled us over. We all got tickets for 54 in a 45. But there is no way – as a technical point – that his radar could have accurately ID’d the speed of three bikes at the same time, especially given we were riding in single file. Maybe the lead bike was doing 54 in a 45. But the bikes following behind? Maybe they were, but the radar didn’t tag them. Couldn’t tag them. Radar doesn’t have that ability. This was enough to get the charges dropped against two out of three of us.

Unfortunately, I was number one in line.

But the point is, unless you were the only car on the road – or the lead car – the above constitutes a solid defense against any radar-based speeding ticket. Unfortunately, you may need to engage the services of a lawyer to present this defense in a manner acceptable to the court. And that will cost money as well as time.

However, it’s always better to pay once (for the lawyer) than to pay several times (to the insurance mafia).

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15 COMMENTS

  1. Always contest traffic tickets on the lack of jurisdiction. The burden of proof is always on the accuser. Ask them what “evidence’, not subjective opinion, they have to prove their laws or codes apply to you. And, no, physical location is not evidence of jurisdiction. The law applies because the law says so is circular reasoning and invalid.
    The fact of the matter is they have no evidence.

  2. In addition to Valentine, Escort has been working on the false alerts from safety systems on other on-road vehicles and seems to have it fairly well sorted out.

    I loved my old V1, but it was noisier than I could handle, with nearly non-stop false alerts everywhere except the open road in between cities. I switched to an Escort Passport 9500ix for many years, which is very nearly as sensitive, but much better at filtering out the false alerts plus integrated GPS that took care of most of the rest of them on my daily drives in familiar territory. A firmware update within the past couple of years seemed to further improve its filtering such that the number of false alerts due to blind spot monitoring systems and radar cruise controls from other vehicles seemed to mostly stop.

    I recently upgraded to the new Passport Max 360, which has the arrows (a feature much missed from my V1) as well as a much smarter/faster chip inside and more sensitive tuning. It seems to have squelched all such false alarms due to other vehicle-based safety systems while being even more sensitive than the old 9500ix and still providing GPS location-based filtering plus bluetooth integration with my smartphone and the ability to run both Waze and Escort Live simultaneously (with EL in the background) to depend upon crowd-sourced police location reports as well as accident/safety reports. If Valentine would be so kind as to integrate better filtering and a GPS location-based filtering system, they’d pull back ahead of the crowd.

    Radar detectors are tools. You still have to know how to use them. They’re not foolproof. Your suggestions are dead-on.

    I’ll also add that many radar detectors come out of the box with X-band disabled. In the US that’s a mistake. They haven’t manufactured X-band radar detectors in a very long time, but there are still a lot of them out there, particularly in rural communities where county mounties and city revenue generators continue to use them. They work just as well as the new stuff, too. So don’t forget to check your default settings and turn on X-band if it has been disabled by default. I’ve been all over the country and run into X-band all over the place that weren’t false alerts (e.g., a cruiser parked at a quick stop with the radar gun left on as I pulled in for gas off the interstate in southern Missouri).

    I really do like and highly recommend using the free app Waze, available for iOS and Android smartphones. It’s a GPS-based navigation app that permits drivers to mark locations of speed traps, active police presence, accidents, etc. while also providing traffic conditions/reports and full rerouting navigation capability to get you from A to B. It’s superior to any built-in car navigation system I’ve ever seen or heard of except that the screen is limited to the size of your phone or tablet and traffic/crowd-sourced reports are dependent on internet connection. This is just another way, like Uber/Lyft, that technology is providing workarounds for problems caused by the State.

  3. Equations of motion
    http://physics.info/motion-equations/problems.shtml

    What It Was Really Like To Fly During The Golden Age Of Travel
    http://www.fastcodesign.com/3022215/terminal-velocity/what-it-was-really-like-to-fly-during-the-golden-age-of-travel

    How did we become a bunch of Soviet Nudniks? Remember in the 60’s you’d meet someone. Shake their hand, offer them a scotch and a cigarette. Talk about your golf game and where to go for parties and nightlife. Have the minimum terrestrial dignity nearly all the other animals have, besides man.

    Work functions included some nice looking broads to chat and fraternize with, since you were out of town on business, or you just worked a hard day, and were well deserving of some Rest and Relaxation. You didn’t try to be a Spartan Goody Two Shoes every second. And you sure as hell, didn’t disparage your fellow men, if they wanted to enjoy themselves and the fruits and bounties of this round generous Earth.

    Now we cower and bark, and obediently queue and await our instructions. Maybe, just maybe, if you’re in a business or doing an errand, somebody might, possibly order you a small bottle of plastic water. And they’ll act like they’re the Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia for doing so. Now fill out all these forms. Give us all your identifications, and wait over there until we call you or have a moment to deal with you further. You’re no longer cool. Being cool is a lost art never again to return.

    Compilation of Kool Cigarette commercials from 1960s
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ImUpZhR7FAQ

    The point isn’t whether scotch and cigarettes are good for you or not. It’s the point that there’s a kind of kinship and dignity and chance for socializing that belongs to the non-Soviet citizen. In Britain, officials don’t bark at you and demand you hop to it like your Mister Bojangles there to dance the old bureaucratic soft-shoe for his pleasure and approval.

    When y’all start squawking about whether you even deserve such things. Or whether such things are good or bad for you. You might already be a Soviet Sovok.
    Or that you’re somehow a good person, cause you’re a good obedient, non-vice or recreational Soviet. You’re dead fucking wrong for thinking that, you’re a filthy sub-animal golem and orc even.

    You are the one that tolerates this being treated lower than a dog. At least a dog can relieve himself as he pleases. Scratch himself when he itches. Drink, eat, investigate anything and everything he encounters, if he has the ability. Do the things a living being needs to due to care for himself. Travel wherever he likes using his own four god-given legs.

    Not so the hen-pecked American Sapien. He must drive and drive to look for a licensed and legal place to evacuate his bladder. He probably will have to spend a few dollars at some business. He has no property rights in himself or the Earth whatsoever. Everywhere he is a case number in a bureaucratic maze. Or a customer, who must spend and spend, so that he might get some kind of relief. Although, never will he be able to buy anything he’d really like to buy.

    Always he must buy some ridiculous overpriced nearly useless monstrosity, with a hundred features he doesn’t want, so that he is able to get the single feature he does want.

    Don’t accept the framing of the con men who are running America. It’s not about which system or which person is the best person to be in charge of which thing for what time period. The question is how are these incompetent sociopaths permitted to control anything we need. How is it we answer their letters and phone calls. Go to their businesses and office.

    Jump through the American Sapien hoops in the grand circus, to do much of anything at all. I’m not going to do any of it. If they’re lucky I might take a shower or brush my teeth if I feel like it.

    Anytime I’m forced to encounter any of them, I make sure not to bathe, and I dig out this one pair of especially rancid clothes I keep way in the back of the garage for any of the times I have to be in their world.

    And I happily stand there like not a thing is wrong. I haven’t a care in the world. Maybe I’m in a Red Lobster, or getting my groceries at the HEB. Or taking somebody to Justice of the Peace court in Harris County, TX. Or just driving down the road with the seatbelt over my left shoulder, but not attached to the buckle.

    I’ve got my mind and body right boss. I’m ready to meet anyone of you shitmakers any time any where. I might not win, but you’re gonna lose when you get wind of all the miseries and unpleasantries I’ve got in store for y’alls.

    • I feel you, Tor.

      And when I feel that way, nothing corrects it better than a blast up to 170 (in a 55) on a fast motorcycle… ideally, with a cop coming at you the other way.

      🙂

  4. Our Az DPS (Highway Patrol) are masters of instant on radar…..at least on I-10 from Quartzite to the Maricopa County line. There’s a median between the east and westbound lanes, often with enough vegetation so they can lurk completely out of site, while still able to see approaching traffic from both directions.

    With a good radar detector, you’ll of course be alerted when they are clocking someone several miles ahead. But to lull detector users into a false sense of security, they won’t clock any cars for 5 minutes or more. Then, when they see a car approaching well over 80mph (the limit is 75,) they strike. Like a bolt of lightning out of a clear blue sky.

    I’ve seen this happen several times, and it’s always shocking. Never been a problem for me, because on that road, we’re always lumbering along in a motorhome, right at or slightly below the limit.

    • Hi Mike,

      Yup. My folks live in AZ (Scottsdale) so I am hip.

      I got pinched (locally) by federal park pork (as described in the article). Foolishly, I stopped. Next time, I won’t.

      • Next time fed “police” getchya, raise the defense that FEDERAL agents are not to be engaged in law enforcement of things like motor vehicle driving. Ist verboten. A sheriff in a very sparsely populated county in Washington State had some fun putting the USFS “cops” back in their appropriate place… their goons had been “policing” and harrassing both locals and out of area tourists… Sheriff got in the supe’s face and said STOP IT. They did.. until they learned the Sheriff was on vacation for two weeks. Their guys got busy and wrote a pile of green paper. Sheriff caught wind of it when he got back in town…. paid a quick visit to the prosecutore, ordered HIM to quash every one of themissued by USFS, tyhen he grabbed all the tickets and paid the Forest Service chief another visit. This time no “making niuce words”. Plopped the pile of tickets on the guy’s desk and sez WHAT ARE THESE? I TOLD YOU TO STOP IT. Just because I was on vacation is no reason to think I did not mean it. One more traffic ticket and I will personlayy escort every one of you guys out of my county. DO YOU UNDERSTAND!!!!???? That was about three years ago and them Feds have been behaving themselves. that sheriff was reelected by a landslide. Next time he won’t even have to campaign.

  5. In PA, only state troopers use radar, mostly on major highways.

    County sheriffs and city, borough and township cops use VASCAR.

    One reason for this is that no radar detector can help you avoid it. But if you look for the lines on the road, you can have an idea of where it is.

      • It appears, based in the specifics of that court case, that his form of speed detection has a built in fatal flaw….. the distance travelled is so short, thus the time travelled at interstate speeds is so short that the time error is a huge percentage of the total time. This returns a HUGE discrepancy with even a SUperman small arror.
        Caifornia’s SHP before radar was allowed for them, developed a very accurate protcol for time variance between chase and target over long repeatable distances. Think a guy’s “hot”, tag your odometer as HE goes under an overpass…. tag it again when YOU do, then wait for another such mark, say, a roadside sign, noting HIS and YOUR odo numbers. If copoper was doing 72 and the distance increased between the two tags, the guy was doing over that speed… and some quick maths would reveal by how much. I learned this listenting to a CHP’s testimony in another case as I was waiting my own turn to beat the judge (I managed to…. mine was not a speed issue). Considering the method it was dead simple to see how to break it…. all I’d have to do was change speed significantly. I always kept a sharp watch astern… and if I’d see a suspicious looking blackk roof back there seeming to pace me I’d take action to break his pacing. Quite a few times I had picked up a skunk tail, and every time, despite doing WAY over posted, I was able to break his pace.. one time even madly diving across three lanes of I-5 to stop on the shoulder, open the bonnet, and run up front with a water jug as if pouring more coolant into my car….. I stood to observe my man as he passed.. he LOOKED ME OVER real hard…. but kept going. I waited about five and drove on…. within an ace of the number on the signs at the side the road. THAT would have been rather dear…. 85 in a 60. Rather a well-invested six minutes, I’d say. I can imagine him, three miles further on, realising he’d been slipped…. “Curses!! Foiled again!!!”. Sweet words, indeed.

    • VASCAR works with or without the marking lines. Point to point clocking can be done from aircraft ( or any good vantage point) using the lines. The VASCAR system allows the operator to use any 2 points and they can be inputted while following behind the target or prior to setting up to observe the target location.
      K-

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