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The Man vs. Machine

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Title: The Man vs. Machine: Who is Winning?

Speedy Statistics

For many, speeding is a normal part of daily life. In fact, speeding is so common that there are electronics available to help drivers get away with it.

US Driving Citation Statistics

  • 1m people per day receive speeding tickets
  • 16% of drivers will get a speeding ticket this year
  • Cost of the average speeding ticket: $150
  • 95% of people will not contest speeding tickets

Top Driving Citation States

  1. OH
  2. PA
  3. NY
  4. CA
  5. TX

How Does it Work?

The radar speed gun was invented by Bryce K. Brown of Decatur Electronics in March 1954 and was first used in Chicago, Illinois in April 1954. Patrolman Leonard Baldy was the first officer to issue a speeding ticket using a radar gun. Radar uses radio waves to detect distance and speed of objects based on the doppler effect. A transmitter oscillates an electrical current through an antenna to an amplifier by using a radio wave. Objects in the path of the radio wave will be bounced back through the antenna to the speed gun receiver.

Radar Detectors

  • Radar detectors have been around since the 1970s.
  • Conventional radar is easy to detect with a basic radio receiver which is tuned to the proper frequency being used by police radar guns.
  • Frequency range is periodically expanded and equipment must be updated regularly.
  • Illegal detectors, called radar jammers, are those that take an active role in eluding police by emitting a jamming signal.

Laws About Detectors

  • Detector use is completely illegal in VA and DC
  • Radar jammers are illegal under Federal Law Use and could lead to a felony charge, fines, and/or jail time.
  • Detectors are illegal on all military bases. Period.
  • It's illegal for any commercial vehicle over 18k pounds to use a radar detector .
  • Radar detectors are generally legal in non-commercial vehicles under the Communications Act of 1934 related to the regulation of radio waves.
  • Laser detectors (or Lidar) are not covered under this act as they use light and not radio waves
  • Laser jammers have not been federally banned, but laws against them exist in CA, CO, IL, MN, NB, OK, SC, TN, TX, UT, VA, D.C.

Lidar (a newer speed detector that uses light instead of radio waves)

The basic element for a lidar gun is concentrated light. Lidar guns clock the time it takes for a burst of infrared light to reach an object and return to its starting point. This time is multiplied by the speed of light to determine distance from the object. The lidar sends many quick laser bursts to collect multiple distances in less than a second. The system compares the distance samples to determine speed.

In many cases, the lidar system is completely automated. When a speeding car is detected the system triggers a small camera. A picture of the license plate and driver's face is taken. The central office simply issues a ticket and mails it to the speeder.

Lidar is more difficult to evade than traditional radar. Laser beams are more focused and a car is likely in the beam's sight before a detector recognizes the lidar. Speeders can adapt by reducing the reflectivity of their car (e.g. using flat black paint and/or special license plate covers) or using laser jammers. The laser jamming detectors detector has light emitting diodes (LEDs). They produce their own light beam so the lidar can't recognize any reflected light and can't get a clear reading. Of course, no detector is 100% effective.

The Spectre Elite: 1-Up for Police

Police officers use the Spectre ELITE to detect hundreds of radar detector models. All radar detectors operate in the same way including those that feature "cloaking" or "Spectre Alert." The Spectre ELITE detects electromagnetic "leakage" from the local oscillator, a component common to every radar detector. Manufacturers try to evade detection by suppressing local oscillator leakage with shielding, trying to adjust the leakage to an undetectable frequency, turning off the local oscillator when detecting a Spectre.

The ELITE can usually detect "stealthy" detectors before they can detect the ELITE. The Spectre ELITE is sensitive and adaptable, detecting many detectors at nearly 1,000 ft away. They have excellent target identification from leaky detectors, can distinguish among multiple signals, and can "scan" traffic for commercial vehicle offenders. It is windshield mounted and can rotate 360 degrees to detect at all angles.

Best Detectors for Speeders

1. Escort Redline

  • Stunning radar warning range
  • Simple controls
  • Excellent visual alert system
  • Spots radar from farther away than any other detector (sometimes over 4 miles)

2. BEL (Beltronics) Pro 300

  • Superior radar sensitivity
  • Extensive feature set
  • User-friendly controls
  • Voice alerts
  • Tells the driver whether a Ka-band alert is police or another radar detector

3. Escort Passport 8500 X50

  • Excellent radar sensitivity
  • Simple controls
  • Extensive feature set


The Man vs. Machine