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How accurate is police radar when two vehicles pass on a two-lane highway?

Brian Freskos
StarNews
Radar

Radar is used to measure the speed of a passing truck. (StarNews file photo)

Radar is so accurate and sophisticated now that it can differentiate between two cars even if they are riding side by side, said Cpl. Jerry Brewer, public information officer for the New Hanover County Sheriff’s Office. He said even if cars drive next to each other, the officer can focus radar on the car he or she wants to clock.

But, Brewer also noted that officers don’t need a radar reading to write a ticket. Officers are trained to spot speeding cars and can make a visual estimate that will commonly stand up in court. Radar is used simply to back up the officer’s observation.

User-contributed question by:
Hank

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6 Responses to “ How accurate is police radar when two vehicles pass on a two-lane highway?”

  1. On April 13, 2011 at 11:52 am daryl wrote:

    I felt guilty once because I was going faster in the right lane than someone on the left (on the highway). An officer pulled up behind us and the other guy got pulled over. Maybe we both were speeding but because the one car pulled over immediately I kept going. Also the officer was on the left and he pulled out and got behind the car on the left. But I know i was passing him. It was years ago but I still feel bad about it. Maybe I should have stopped too, but I didn’t. The officer didn’t come after me later. So in that instance the slower vehicle got the ticket because I know I was going faster, but maybe we both were speeding. I can’t be sure.

  2. On April 14, 2011 at 6:18 am Matthew wrote:

    Its funny you say they (cops) use math, taking time and distance to find speed and all this without a radar… I know a few cops and if this holds up in court, fail on the justice system. I worked for and attorney cops are human and lord knows we need them in the city of Wilmington but sometimes instead of the little crap lets stop gangs, drugs and violence. Is there a equation for that.

  3. On April 14, 2011 at 11:00 am Bert wrote:

    You only reported what the police told you. No other experts with another point of view. Thats not good reporting.

  4. On April 14, 2011 at 8:27 pm Matt wrote:

    after contacting a company who manufacture radar devices you may have been misled i have also sat in a car observing radar timing with a certified training officer in the western half of the state the machine will give off two tones one is the faster car an the officer actually has to judge which car he thinks is going faster on a busy highway a radar gun can actually clock several cars moving in either direction an so the operater of the device can an often gets a false reading like the units mounted in the rear windows of patrol cars the officer cannot 100% say it was you he clocked an i have went to court an beat this kind of ticket when i was issued a 70mph in a 50 following a city bus at 3 car lenghts by a officer using a rear facing radar an looking in his mirror he actually clocked the cars going the oppisite direction an it was proven thanks to a honest training officer who let me run tests before my court date …im not saying its ok to go out an recklessly speed down the highway but radar an laser even vascar technology all have their faults just like the traffic cams that flash an lind us all the time or flash when we are stopped an there are no other cars at the red light

  5. On April 25, 2011 at 9:57 am zipper wrote:

    wilmington has always been notorious for “revenue generation” via speeding tickets. consequently, taking the word of someone who brings in revenue (also known as shakedown money), with no other opposing sources quoted……well, it isn’t being a reporter. it’s being a repeater.

  6. On April 26, 2011 at 5:00 pm Chuck wrote:

    Actually, as a certified traffic radar instructor (certified by Custom Electronics, the largest manufacturer of police radar), I can tell you that this information is not completely correct. Traffic (doppler) radar sends out a radar signal at a specific frequency and that signal bounces off a vehicle/vehicles sending a return-signal back to the radar unit at a different frequency (by the way, doppler radar is the same radar used in weather forcasting to show rain, snow and such). The difference in the frequencies is processed in the radar units internal processor and gives a visual speed along with an audible tone (the higher the speed the higher pitch of the tone heard). Traffic radar cannot distinguish between which moving objects it sees, only which is the best “reflector”, the operator has to determine which object he feels is being “tracked”.

    Now on another note, Laser radar is a pin-point beam that can be directed at a specific vehicle and will give a reading for only that specific “reflected” vehicle. Hope this clears a few things up.



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