- FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
Through the years we have received thousands of questions about radar and laser technology that law enforcement use...
We have selected the most commonly asked questions in an attempt to give you a better understanding of the subject
Q Are radar detectors legal?
A They are legal to use
in New Zealand have been for over 40 years. Many Police involved in
traffic work believe that radar & laser detectors slow drivers down.
Q Are radar / laser jammers legal?
A Here in NZ it is an offence under the Land Transport Act Revisions of 2011 to Jam speed measuring equipment.
Q I just passed a police car and my radar detector didn't go off?
A Not all police cars have radar or laser guns.
Q There are places where I drive and my radar detector goes off with no police in sight. Why?
A The FCC in the USA and
ITU in NZ allows other uses on radar bands used by police. Most
commonly this is found on X band (10.525 GHz) and it is called a false
alert. Some common false alerts are caused by automatic door openers,
burglar alarms, terrestrial microwave towers. Poorly made radar
detectors in other cars can also cause your detector to false alert. No
radar detector is completely "false alert" proof.
Q How many radar and laser guns are in use in New Zealand and which band is most popular?
A There are approximately
1800 radar systems and 163 laser guns in use. According to the data we
received as at 2006 there is no X band radar left in operation. All the
Radar in the HWP Cars operate on the KA SWB at 34.7GHz ±100Mhz. There
are approx 70 non radar Pole Camera locations with 14 camera's rotated
through them and approx 43 Mobile speed camera Vans or station wagons.
These latest Vans (2011) run a new Digital Low Powered Pulsed K band
signal which is very difficult to detect. The operation frequency is
Q What is the most common range an officer uses a radar or laser gun?
A Officers, by law, must
establish a "visual tracking history" of your car. This means they must
be able to identify the make and model of the vehicle before assessing
speed with a radar or laser gun. This is usually 600 metres or less. In
most instances, officers rarely use a radar or laser gun past 1
kilometre. The maximum range of the Prolaser 2 is 610metres.
Q I got a ticket and I want to use as a defense the calibration of the radar gun. Is this a good idea?
A The US courts have
consistently ruled, i.e. Connecticut v. Tomanelli (1966), Wisconsin v.
Hansen (1978) that tuning fork verification is adequate to insure the
accuracy of the radar gun. Officers before starting a shift, should
strike the tuning fork to verify the correct speed stamped on the fork
appears on the speed readout of the radar gun. Further, N.Z. radars and
tuning forks need to be verified annually by a certified technician and
that notarized certifications pertaining to radar gun and tuning fork
accuracy be made available to the public.
Q Do radar guns cause cancer?
A This came from a court
case brought by two Connecticut state troopers claiming radar guns
contributed to testicular cancer. The courts found no medical evidence
to substantiate the claim. The answer is no!
Q Sometimes my radar detector gives a long range warning to radar guns; sometimes it doesn't. Why?
A Different radar guns
transmit at different output powers usually from 5-50 mW. If you are
standing 30 metres away from a friend and they whisper, you can't hear
them. If they shout, you can. In other words, your friend is
transmitting at two different output powers. Radar range is adversely
effected by humidity, elevation, particulate matter in the air, rain,
Q What is "instant on" or "pulsed" radar?
A This is a method of
momentarily triggering the radar gun "on" and then triggering the gun
"off". The normally occurs is less than a couple of seconds. Instant on
triggers were developed, in part, to thwart radar detector use. Some
radar detectors don't report "instant on" at distances greater than 300
Q What is the radar detector-detector and why is it important?
A The radar
detector-detector is called the VG-2 and it looks for a common IF
emission of radar detectors at 11.55 GHz. Many of the detector makers
have changed their common IF and can't be detected. The industry calls
this "undetectable". Detectability is of little use for cars in the New
Zealand as detectors are legal.
Q I'm going to court and plan to challenge the officer's training and understanding of radar. Good idea?
A The US courts have
consistently ruled it is not necessary for an officer to have a
comprehensive knowledge of Doppler radar but receive adequate training
and certification, Honeycutt v. Kentucky (1966), Ohio v. Wilcox (1974).
If the officer is certified, you will have little luck! Ditto for N.Z.
Q Do radar and laser jammers work?
A There is one active
radar jammer that returns a variable doppler shift that does have
success in jamming K band radar guns. The Phantom RCD. There are
several laser jammers like the Blinder M-10 that are also very
effective in Jamming All current laser guns used by the Police.
Q I got a laser ticket and my detector didn't even go off. Why?
A Laser is increasingly
used in metropolitan areas as it can pinpoint one vehicle in a group of
traffic while radar guns can not. At 200 metres, the laser guns 904
nanometer, infrared beam is only 40 cm wide and does not scatters
(bounce off objects like radar). If your laser detectors receiver is
out of this 40 cm beam width, chances are it will not alert to laser's
use. If the laser gun were pointed directly at your detector, it would
alert. The chances of getting any advanced warning of laser being aimed
at the car in front of you are slim. Remote Laser Jammers like the M-10
are very effective in detection of Laser as they are mounted inside the
Q Are the claims of 360s radar and laser protection true?
A For radar, the claims
are valid. The letters in RADAR stand for RAdio Detection And Ranging
meaning a radar transmission is very similar to your favorite radio
station. Radio waves bounce off metal signs, the truck in front of you,
buildings, and other reflective objects. Although radar detectors have
only a front facing radar antenna (with the exception of the dash
mounted Valentine One which has a front and rear facing antenna), a
radar transmission from behind you will most likely bounce into your
radar detector's front facing antenna. Laser is another issue by it's
very directional and highly collimated, monochromatic nature. If the
detector were outside of the vehicle, most detectors will alert to
laser from the front or rear. Rear alerts are hampered by the
attenuation of the glass in the rear window. Side laser alerts are rare
, and laser can't aquire your speed to the side.
Q I've heard of a new radar band that radar detectors can't see. Is this true?
A Radio frequencies used
by law enforcement radar guns are controlled by the Federal
Communications Commission, FCC, and not by the individual States or
Countries. There are three radar bands currently used by police and
approved by the FCC consisting of X band at 10.525 GHz, K band at
24.150 GHz, and Super-wide Ka band at 33.4-36 GHz. The FCC does not
control the use of laser guns. The United States Food and Drug
Administration certifies laser guns for eye safety under CFR 21,
subpart 1040 and 1041. Laser guns operate on a single, infrared,
wavelength of 904 nanometers. When you hear this rumor, the driver most
likely encountered "instant on" radar their detector did not see. Radar
frequencies used in NZ, Australia, UK and Europe are the same as those
used in the USA and are all controlled by the FCC.
Q How can I be sure my radar detector is operating properly?
A Find a supermarket with
an automatic door opener and drive toward it with your detector on. The
automatic door opener should make your radar detector alert.
Q Will my radar detector see VASCAR?
A VASCAR stands for
Visual Average Speed Computer And Recorder and is a timing device that
times your vehicle from one predetermined point to another. It is like
a stop watch and puts out no signal. No radar detector can warn you of
VASCAR. VASCAR is commonly used in Pennsylvania as local law
enforcement departments can not use radar guns by state law.
Q If I see an officer targeting me with radar and my detector alerts, can I slow down in time to not get a ticket?
A Radar travels at the
speed of light which is 186,000 miles per second. In one second, the
time it takes to blink your eyes, light travels seven times (7.44 times
to be exact) around the world. Your speed reading on the radar gun is
instantaneous and you do not have time to slow down.
Q If officers must use a tuning fork to insure radar gun accuracy, what do they use for laser guns?
A Laser guns compute
speed by transmitting "Pulsed Wave", PW, infrared emissions at a
predetermined rate, usually from 100-238 pulses per second. These
pulses bounce back to the laser gun and the gun's computer remembers
each pulse, i.e. when it left and when it returned. This is called
"flight time". If the laser gun knows time and distance, it rapidly
computes speed of the target vehicle, usually in less than 1/3 of a
second. Consequently, the gun must accurately compute distance. Prior
to using a laser gun for speed enforcement, the officer should perform
a "Delta Test" for distance accuracy using constant distance reflectors
at a fixed location. The gun should read the same distance each time
prior to use. The admissibility of laser enforcement has been upheld in
New Zealand Courts.
Q Will my radar detector protect me from a photo radar ticket?
A Photo radar is an
automated system with a radar gun tied to a camera. It came originally
from Germany where it is called MultiNova. Presently, photoradar
systems used in New Zealand are now Digital Low Powered Pulsed K band
signal which are very difficult to detect. The operation frequency is
24.100GHz. ±100MHZ. Due to the low output power of the photoradar guns,
most radar detectors will give no advanced warning. Only the latest
detectors from ESCORT Valentine Research & Beltronics will provide
adequate warning of Speed Cameras. Typically you can expect it to
fluctuate between 80-300 metres.
Q I've heard putting tin foil on your hubcaps keeps a radar gun from getting a speed reading. Is this correct?
A Drivers have tried
everything to foil radar gun from fish depth finders, to neon lights,
to tin foil on hubcaps. None of these home remedies work. There is only
one way to fool a radar gun and that is by disrupting the "Doppler
Shift" of the return signal.
Q Is the range of a dash mounted radar detector the same as a remote that mounts behind the grill?
A Frontal performance of
dash and remote detectors is almost identical. However, rear reception
with a dash model is superior to that of a remote. Some remotes offer a
rear receiver. Remotes can't be seen. Yearly, 1 in 5 dash models are
stolen. Remotes are always a good option although inevitably are more
expensive to buy and require a professional installation.