Car Speed radar detector

police radar operation

What types of police radar are used?

Police radar guns operate on three frequency bands: X-band, K-band, and Ka-band.

Most newer police radar guns operate on the super-wide Ka-band. K-band is still quite common, given its historical advantage to Ka-band. The oldest X-band radars, which have been widely used throughout the state of NJ, are slowly being supplemented with newer and smaller digital (DSP) Ka-band radar and even more lethal police laser guns.

Police radar transmissions are quite wide in their dispersion patterns and are often reflected in many directions. This gives a radar detector a lot of opportunities to detect the radar transmission and as a consequence generally provides the driver ample reaction time to slow down while vehicles ahead are being targeted.

Police Radar is also not particularly precise in pinpointing which vehicles are responsible for speed readings, requiring a visual confirmation by the officer. Some European police speed radar—called Gatso and Multanova—are much narrower, ultra low-powered, polarized, and much harder to detect as a result even with the best radar detectors and come equipped with cameras. These types of systems can be fixed or mobile.

police radar speed measurementHow is police radar used from a patrol car?

Police radar can be operated in a stationery position or moving vehicle. Most states allow radar to be operated by a patrol officer while driving (Pennsylvania is an exception). Radar used in this way, can also be quite challenging especially when operated in IO mode as a driver can come upon an officer on the highway around the bend and approaching in the opposite direction. This can make for a difficult ambush situation to avoid getting a speeding ticket.

Police radar can also be used in unmarked patrol vehicles making early detection even more difficult. The state of Pennsylvania is unique in that only state troopers are able to use radar. In other states, both state and local police are permitted to operate radar as a means of traffic enforcement.

Some police radar units that are mounted to patrol vehicles have two transmitters, one pointing forward and one pointing towards to rear. The rear facing transmitter can easily clock vehicles that are following a patrol vehicle so be mindful when approaching a patrol car on the highway.

Radar—even in I/O form—when transmitted is fairly easy to detect from ahead with a good radar detector and is one of the best tools a driver can use today. The quality of radar detectors have improved dramatically over the years and even budget priced models, such as the Whistler CR90 can be a very effective device in mitigated its risk. Higher-end (with price tags to match) are available from Beltronics, Escort, and Valentine Research.


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