So you want to beat the cops? Radar loveApr 11, 2001 Write an essay on this topic.
Popular Products in Radar DetectorsThe Bottom Line Depending on your local police's equipment, a radar detector can help you a lot. More and more counties switch to instant-on low-power Lidar guns. Read how to protect against them.
I bought a COBRA radar detector in the mid-price range a year ago. For ~ 5 months, this device was very helpful to me. Then things changed. Learn from my experience.
- What a detector should offer
- What a detector does for you
- What it does not for you
- Active Stealth techniques: Jammers
- Passive Stealth techniques
What a detector should offer
Obviously your radar detector should cover all the frequencies that police uses in your area. The ranges frequencies are called “Bands”, and detectors offer X-, K, Ka band support. Additionally it should offer Lidar detection. Lidar is sometimes also called “Laser”. Any detector for $100 will offer this. The more expensive ones have advanced sensitivity and Valentine’s have even two sensors (to the front and to the rear) for better location of the threat.
What a detector does for you
Any radar detector will detect an active source within a certain range. Sometimes this source is just a gas station’s security system – a wrong alarm. A radar detector will go off when the cops have their radar activated. I have been saved in situations where there were cops on the side of a freeway and their radar was active permanently. Under good geographic circumstances like a flat street with no obstacles, you can get the radar alarm miles ahead.
What it does not for you
To make it really clear: A radar detector will not detect the presence of a police car unless they have an activated device. 5 months after I bought my detector police here in the area replaced their photo radar and high-power Lidar (“lasers”) with small, low-energy, instant on Lidar guns.
I drive towards a curve with poor visibility. When I get around the curve, there’s a motorcycle cop. My detector is dead silent. In a split second, the cop pulls his Lidar gun, aims at me, shoots the Lidar, no chance for me to do anything about it and finally my detector warns me.
Of course I was going only 26 mph, so I was fine. I follow the speed limits in my town.
If you are lucky, your radar detector can detect when they measure the car in front of you. While the other bands deliver a rather broad signal, Lidar is fairly targeted and you probably will never catch a signal that was shot at a different car.
Active Stealth techniques: Jammers
Now there are people who do not want to obey to speed limits or have a problem keeping the right speed. In order to overcome the Lidar, jammers have been put on the market. While a radar detector is a passive device, a jammer sends actively signals to confuse the cop’s device. While jamming Lidar is legal by FCC rules, using it on the streets is considered to "interfere with the duties of a police officer". In other words: You will get in trouble.
There are two kinds of jammers on the market: pulsed LEDs and CW Headlights. The problem is the range. If you have a regular car, police Lidar can catch you on a distance of 2000 feet and on average, cops will use it from an 800-foot distance. While the cop’s Lidar gun is sharply targeted at your license plate, your jammer will have to broadcast “widely” thus delivering a weaker signal. Jammers cover a distance of ~ 600 feet.
Note that I said above: “regular car”.
There are ways to modify your visibility to Lidar.
Passive Stealth techniques
Cops are trained to shoot their Lidar guns on your license plate. Why? Because the license plate is highly reflecting. Try this:
Park your car in your dark garage or on a dark street and look at it from 50 foot distance. Squint your eyes. What do you see? Right, the front license plate and maybe the headlights.
Because the license plate reflects so well, a cop who is able to shoot Lidar on it will be able to measure you on the maximum distance.
So, to decrease the visibility to Lidar, you have to cover up the vulnerable targets.
1) In some states it’s legal to remove the front license plate
2) There are transparent masks on the market that – invisible to the human eye – make your license plate unreadable to Lidar. It is unclear if the DMV would accept this modification, but it works.
3) There are sprays on the market that claim to achieve the same effect as the covers.
The next best targets after the license plate are your headlights.
Buy a car that has retractable headlights (like my Firebird).
On the rear end, there’s the license plate and the red taillight to take care of. In my area police usually measures from the front though.
Oh, and you do not want to have any reflective decoration on your car’s front. Shiny grills, any forward facing chrome are good targets for the cop as well.
Get your car one of those leather bras. Gee, now you know why people *really* have them, hmm?
What do these passive stealth techniques give you? They reduce the range in which police can measure you. They give your radar detector a chance to go off and they give you a chance to adjust your speed.
If you are planning on getting a radar detector, you better also start checking out your Lidar targets. Any radar detector alone will not help you much unless your police uses old technology. For the radar detector, do not be fooled by ads claiming to cover 11 or even more bands. The additional bands are “informational” only. Watch for X, K, Ka and Lidar detection.
Personally, I don’t have those transparent license plate covers and I never purchased the spray. Of course, I never even considered putting a jammer on my car. After my encounter with the motorcycle cop from above I realized that the best protection is to go with the flow of traffic and, when driving alone at night, watch my speed.
While the technology part still fascinates me, I’m not that much into speeding that I would use the illegal jamming stuff. On certain roads like Interstate 5 I would still speed. There’s a 250-mile stretch between San Jose & LA, and 3-figure speeds are not uncommon among motorists. Given the good visibility, the straightness of the street and the little traffic, that seems to be safe.
On other roads like the infamous Highway 17, where I see cops every day - even at 3am, I rather obey the speed limits. Not for the cops but for everyone’s safety.
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