The Great American Speed Trap Hoax!

Copyright © 2003- 2012 - R.P.C.G.I. All rights reserved.

Part of RPCGI


Contacting L.T. Performance

TheTruth About Speed and Red Light Cameras

Before you go jumping to conclusions, make sure you read this entire article.  No, the ace traffic
cop hasn't lost his mind.  I still believe in strict enforcement of the traffic laws.  It's just that I have
a very strict opinion as to who should be doing that enforcement as well.

Do any of you remember reading about the Robber Barons of medieval Europe in history class?    
Those  merry men who stopped travelers on public trails and charged them whatever they felt was
reasonable to allow the traveler to continue on their way.    Some collected it for the kingdom, a type
of road use tax.  Others did it for their own gain.    Even then, some of those who were supposed to
collect for the king, added their own fees and embezzled from the funds collected to make it worth
their while.

How many of you have been driving down the road 'a little' over the speed limit when suddenly, from out
from behind the billboard comes  Smokey the Bear, a County Mountie, John Law,  or any of the other fine
distiguished members of the local or state law enforcement community to let you know you've been had?

How many of you were pulled over and were able to convince that nice police officer that you really didn't
mean it and got a warning?   

How many of you got a warning because that's what the officer had in store for you right from the start?  ( I know, that one you may not know the answer to.)

But now, enter the age of RoboCop.  You drive down the road a few miles over the limit, even fewer than when you get grabbed by a police officer, and a few weeks later you get a letter in the mail accusing you of speeding.  It gives you a date and time and sometimes a location, and tells you to pay a fine.  Heck, you don't even remember where you were driving the day before yesterday, much less a couple of weeks ago, right?    You don't remember whether you were even on that particular road.  You don't remember if you may have been rushing your sick child to the doctor.    But the 'camera' got you, so you must have been wrong, right?


First, and please read my entire explanation before you go quoting me.

RADAR, by itself, is inaccurate.  By itself, the radar does not identify what  it has picked up at the speed it just determined.    It is the highly trained and experienced police officer, state trooper, highway patrolman, what have you, that sees the vehicle, determines it is the one speeding, and then uses the radar to verify the speed of the target vehicle.   That is the only legitimate purpose of the traffic radar unit.  PERIOD!  To give an accurate speed.

Remember something about radar units; the exact same type of radar units are used to determine the speed of baseballs at a ballgame.  Do you expect that same radar unit to tell you whether it was an inside pitch or an outside pitch?  To you expect it to tell you whether it was a curveball, knuckleball, slider?  Of course not.  Why?  Because it can't do that!  If you take six automatic pitching machines, have them all set at different speeds, and have them pitch towards the same radar unit at the same time, it will give you a speed.  But will you know what ball it was that the radar was picking up?  No!

Let me explain how traffic radar works.  Traffic radar is a microwave tranceiver.  It is a radio.  A directional radio tranceiver.  It sends a signal, that signal strikes an object and reflects the signal back.  If the object is stationary, the reflected signal is the same and the radio sees this and says it's got a speed of zero.  If the object is moving, the reflected signal changes in frequency.  The radar unit takes that received changed frequency and indicates the speed it took to create that change.  Moving radar works in the same manner except that it detects the patrol car's speed as well and subtracts that from the combined speed of the target vehicle and the patrol vehicle.    It is still the police officer operating the radar unit that identifies the actual violator, not the radar unit.  The radar unit is strictly a tool used to give an accurate speed.  That's all.

Probably the trickiest part of operating radar is to understand that the radar inherently picks up the closest, fastest, largest object, and not necessarily in that order.  If the closest target is a cabover Peterbilt tractor pulling a 53 foot box trailer, that's easy.  But if your target, or the target you hope to get a speed on, happens to be a Corvette and is about 200 feet behind that same truck, you are going to have a little bit of a wait, no matter what difference in speed there is between the two.  Keep that in mind when you get a ticket from a speed camera where your car is said to be doing the speed of the truck barely visible in the photograph.

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