Reader Question: AGW Detection?

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Here’s the latest reader question, along with my reply!

Tom asks: Modern police cars have all kinds of electronic crap emitting all kinds of radiation. Can’t some clever IT person devise a detector that can tell when a cop car is near?

My reply: Radar detectors, of course, are designed to do exactly that. The problem, of course, is that they only detect if the radar unit is emitting radar. I’m not sure whether the radio gear, ALPRS (automated plate readers) and other such emit detectable signals; perhaps a device could be designed to separate out AGW-specific “noise” from the general background but I am unaware of any such in existence.

The WAZE app, however, does exist. Also our eyes. Most AGW vehicles are marked and almost all of them are of a few specific types (e.g., the Ford Taurus/Explorer, Chevy Impala/Malibu and – more commonly – the Dodge Charger) and usually have visual tell-tales such as opaque-tint windows and additional antennas on the roof. I find that by using this, best of all detectors, one can spot an AGW in time to avoid trouble 95-plus percent of the time.

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  1. Anyone know about those license plate covers that claim to block license plate readers? Web reviews are all over the place. What’d you all think? Snake oil?

    • Hi Anon,

      The ones I’m aware of purport to thwart red light and speed cameras by blurring the plate numbers when viewed from an angle; one problem with these is they’re visible to the human eye – the eye of an AGW, for instance. And that can cause trouble it’s hard to talk your way out of. However, a plate that’s bent a little bit… or numbers obscured by dirt/mud… can be explained away and is probably effective against ALPRs, too.

      Not that I’d know, of course!

      • A friend who was always hooking up bumper pull trailers got a ticket for a license plate that the ossifer couldn’t read.

  2. I use Waze on my many road trips and set the warning feature at a given amount above the speed limit. Say 10 or 15 mph above the limit. Then I just drive. Waze will tell me with an audio alarm when I exceed that window or when a cop has been viewed. This works me. And since the speed limit changes frequently waze keeps me out of trouble mostly

    • Guess I should have used it since one way they like to ticket, esp. truckers, is that speed limit sign set right behind that tree around that curve so you’ll be right past it before you realize it’s there. Naturally, that’s where the cops hang out.

      I was in a big hurry last year and left I 10 to go to Fredericksburg and here’s a little strip of speed zone with a two cops pointing each direction shooting the shit. Big building there and a curve so you’re in the speed zone just about the time you see the sign. Once I got past them and they didn’t stop me for 5 or more over, I nailed it and hauled ass to Fredericksburg where I knew they’d be out in force and sure enough, topping the hill I saw red and blue lights in two places and as glad they were busy so I could get down slow enough to roll by, take a turn and leave town have a good idea where they all were and sure enough, nuttin goin on out on the N end of town, well, nutting but a big deer that I damn near hit when he had to streak in front of me.
      That particular trip I came across more people that tried to block me from passing them, a pretty weird thing. One guy would slow down when I could see and then get into it when I could. I found out that Hemi pickup would hit 120 in a heart beat. Of course it wasn’t going to last much longer because they all have a defective upper end on the engine that gives up pretty quickly. This one was well on it’s way. I wondered the entire time what Hertz would eventually do with those pickups. Just run them through the auction before they died I guess.

  3. Back in the 80’s we mundanes had NORAD but the cops had GPS and almost to a man, they’d turn them on when out revenuing so the home office would know where the car was if they should have trouble.

    We truckers had GPS detectors. It helped quit a bit although nothing is foolproof. And back then you only had to snatch your Escort from wherever it was mounted and stick it in your boot. You could stick it down your pants if wanted to get branded. They didn’t have detector detectors but they could get a good idea if you were using one when instant-on finally hit the market(1986 in Texas).

    There may still be something out there to differentiate one GPS signal from another but I am unaware of such. WAZE does work pretty well from what I’ve heard. I haven’t needed it in a truck not having one that would significantly break the limit. If you get caught in town, you’re either distracted or screwing up. That doesn’t mean cops won’t lie and say you were in a speed zone you hadn’t reached.

    Probably the best thing to have, and it won’t protect you from getting caught speeding although it can, and that’s a dashcam. I think there are dashcams with GPS that will show your speed at any given spot. These are only useful for lying cops(not uncommon at all). The best thing you can have is a jammer which are illegal but if it’s hidden and turns off immediately or you can turn it off, then it’s a good thing to have if it’s hidden well enough. Some sources do create a phenomena similar to a jamming signal so find out what they are and be sure to have something that can be interpreted as a jammer if you’re going to use one. I think some microwave ovens can screw that up.

    It’s not important for me since if I get hired again it will be by the hour most likely. If the pay is based on a percentage of the load I’ll find out everything I need to know and buy a good jammer.

  4. Those Explorers really grind my gears because they tell me how much they really *don’t* want to be noticed. Outside paint color is a neutral dark gray. Light bar on the INSIDE of the vehicle, barely noticeable if at all toward the top of the front windshield. And raised ground clearance that allows them to hide in many more off road spots. The only other giveaway apart from the deep tinted glass is the steel wheels (civilian Explorers, like almost all cars these days, have alloys).

  5. And don’t forget the front bumpers – I see an SUV with one of those off road bumpers it’s an AGW most of the time.


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