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Avoiding Tickets: How Laser Radar Detectors and Jammers Work



How Laser Radar Detectors and Jammers Work

Nothing can spoil your day more quickly than a speeding ticket can, and if you have a tendency to have a lead foot when you're on the open road, your driving habits can end up costing you big over time. The more speeding infractions you accumulate, the more likely you are to receive points on your license, and be subject to higher fines. A poor driving record can lead to increased insurance premiums and even cost you a job if you work in a field where driving is a part of your daily responsibilities.

While it's easy to say that speeding is wrong and that you simply should stop doing it, the reality is that it's not always that easy to avoid speeding. When you travel frequently for work or pleasure, you are likely to drive unfamiliar roads where you're not sure of the maximum speed. Because maximum speed limit laws are different in every state and speed limits can change many times on the same stretch of road, it's all too easy to mistakenly speed.

Radar detectors and jammers are designed to help you avoid tickets in instances where you are speeding without even realizing it. These devices can help you protect your driving record, and they can actually lead to safer driving. How? Well, if you're cruising along the highway and your radar detector beeps, the first thing you'll do is check your speed. You may be going much faster than you intended to go, and the signal from your detector can warn you to slow down.

Before investing in a radar detector or jammer, it's important to have an understanding of how they work and what their benefits and limitations are. This will help you more easily compare models and select the right type of device for your needs. This guide will tell you all of the basics that you need to know to make an informed buying decision.



What Is a Radar Speed Gun?


A radar speed gun is the most basic device used for speed traps. The gun consists of two main components: a radio transmitter and a radio receiver. When a radar speed gun is triggered, the radio transmitter makes tiny motions that generate an invisible, silent electromagnetic wave. An amplifier increases the strength of the wave and an antenna then releases the wave into the air. Like a wave rolling in from the sea, the radio wave travels through the air until it crashes against your car. The car then reflects the wave back, and an antennae in the speed gun captures the wave and sends it to the radio receiver inside of the laser speed gun.

Once the radio wave has been sent out and has returned, the speed gun has the information that it needs to calculate how fast the vehicle was traveling. The waves move at a constant speed, so by calculating how quickly the wave returns to the gun, the device can determine how far away the vehicle was when the reading was taken.

Another measurement that the radar detector uses to determine the speed at which a vehicle was traveling is based on a phenomenon known as the Doppler Effect. To understand the term, it's important to first learn a bit about the nature of electromagnetic waves. All waves have a frequency, which relates to how many times the wave cycles over a given period of time.

If we return to our comparison to a wave at the beach, a certain number of waves will crash upon the shore per minute. When winds are fast, five waves may reach the shore in the amount of time that it would take two to reach the shore when the wind is slower. Similarly, the wave may move through a large number of cress and troughs in a second and have a high frequency or move through a small number of them and have a low frequency.

When the radio waves from a radar speed gun strike a car, the shape of the wave changes, which affects its frequency. If the vehicle is moving away from the gun, the frequency of the wave will decrease as the transmission of the waves continues, and the opposite occurs when the car is moving towards the gun. By calculating how much the frequency changes and using the information about far away the vehicle is, the radar gun can show the speed with reasonable accuracy.



What is a Lidar Speed Gun? (Also known as Laser Speed Gun)



Lidar technology is the newest method available for detecting the speed of vehicles, and it is beginning to replace the radar detectors that have been used for roughly five decades to catch speeders. Instead of using radio waves, the lidar speed gun uses a highly concentrated, intense light called a laser. With a laser speed gun, police officers can better focus their targeting and ensure a higher level of accuracy, leading to fewer disputed tickets and more speeders ultimately being caught.

With a lidar speed gun, the police officer engages the device, which emits a short burst of laser light that travels outward to the car and then is reflected back at the gun. Laser light travels at a constant rapid speed like a radio wave, so the gun can determine the distance that the car was from the gun when the light hit it by counting the number of nanoseconds that it took for the reflected light to return. The laser gun can perform up to 1,000 measurements per second, gathering data to see how far the car traveled during that time. From there, it can extrapolate the speed.

Some police departments are now using completely automated lidar speed detectors. These systems continuously monitor the speed of passing cars. When one is going faster than the allowable speed, the system triggers a camera to take a photograph as the vehicle passes. The license plate number is then reviewed and the owner of the vehicle receives a speeding ticket via mail.



What Are Laser/Lidar and Radar Detectors?



Now that you understand just how police are able to catch you speeding, you're ready to find out more about how you can take steps to prevent them from doing just that. Radar detectors are a type of device used to warn a motorist that they are approaching a speed trap where a gun is being used to clock vehicle speeds. The device is a radio receiver that is tuned to detect the frequency range of the electromagnetic waves that are used to monitor the speeds of vehicles. When the detector senses the presence of a wave within the frequency range, it produces a tone or lights up to warn you.

So how is the warning from a radar detector beneficial? Most of the time, when a speed trap is set up on the side of the road, the waves are sent out over a wide area. In this case, unless you were the first car to be clocked, you would likely hear the tone or see the light warning before your individual speed has been measured. This gives you time to slow down and avoid a ticket. If a police officer is traveling behind you and clocks you or you are the car that they decide to check first, you would not have enough time to lower your speed. By the time the detector could alert you, the officer would already know how fast you were traveling.

Traditional radar detectors also do not work on the new lidar detector speed guns, but some newer models have improved features to overcome this problem. These detectors include a light-sensitive panel that can also sense the presence of laser light. When the light from the lidar speed gun reaches the lidar detector, it activates the noise or light mechanism on the device to warn you. Unfortunately, the precision and speed with which lidar guns operate usually make it so that your speed has already been clocked by the time you receive the warning.



What Are Jammers?


As you have seen, the problem with radar detectors is that they do not fully protect you from tickets. They simply help you to slow down and hopefully avoid them. Jammers are a more sophisticated type of technology that help make it more difficult for the speed of your vehicle to be determined, so that a ticket is much less likely.

Radar jammers have a radar transmitter built into their designs. The transmitter sends out a mix of radio waves, which mimic the waves of the speed gun and have extra noise built in. When the radio wave is transmitted by the speed gun, the device cannot separate the return wave from the waves emitted by the jammer, so it cannot calculate the speed. Jammer devices may also have a mechanism for interfering with lidar speed guns. Using LED lights, the jammer sends out a quick burst of light when it detects the light of the gun. The gun has difficulty distinguishing the LED light from its original laser light and gives an error message.



Things to Remember

While the top-of-the-line jammer models on the market are very reliable, no system is 100 percent foolproof. It is always possible for a jammer to fail and for a police officer to still get an accurate speed reading on your vehicle. Some people who wish to enhance the effectiveness of their jammers and detectors use special accessories to make their cars less reflective, particularly in the license plate area.

It's important to note that radar detectors and jammers are illegal in a few states, please check with your local state DMV. If you're caught using one in the state that does not allow them, you could be subject to a fine. Only you can determine if it is worth the risks involved, if you live in an area that does not permit the use of detectors or jammers.

Ultimately, there is only one way that you can be certain not to get a speed ticket: obey the traffic laws; however, having a radar detector or jammer can help you to avoid the consequences of unintentional speeding mistakes when you’re on the road.



Cobra Vedetta Supercharged Radar / Laser / Camera Detector