Gaining on speeders

Higher accuracy and built-in video: advancements in laser systems make for more convincing enforcement and traffic safety

   Farmer feels the use of video in speed enforcement laser systems can help officers seal speeding cases shut while teaching offenders valuable lessons. Farmer was invited to serve on LTI's advisory panel for development of the TruCAM product, and his department is awaiting a field test of the new video laser system.

   "By having people on video, it takes the guesswork out of it," Farmer says. "We can prove how people are overtaking cars with speeding."

Continued efforts

   As the war against speeding wages on, it is clear that both radar and LIDAR have defined though separate roles. As the challenge of clamping down on speeders will remain focused on traffic-choked freeways and major roadways, laser's role will only expand.

   "Laser has enabled us to do very good speed enforcement in high-density traffic," Porter says. "So, LIDAR has been a big advancement [in speed enforcement]."

   Porter also points out that just because police departments are buying more laser systems, LIDAR is not the only tool used. Departments now have a variety of speed enforcement equipment so they can pick and choose in terms of when and where each tool works best.

   The latest speed enforcement technology will not be enough to win the speeding war alone, Porter says. There also must be aggressive public awareness campaigns. The familiar "Click-It-or-Ticket" seat belt campaign has been a good example for how speed enforcement must be handled regardless of what technology is used.

   Porter adds: "The Click-It model showed us that if you build effective communications tools and back it up with strict enforcement, the two combined become like a force multiplier."

   Bob Galvin is an Oregon-based freelance writer specializing in public safety topics. He can be reached at

Finding funding

   Of course, whatever speed enforcement equipment is on a police department's wish list, it all costs money. Luckily various funding sources are available to help with agencies find funding for equipment purchases.

   Lowell Porter, vice-chair of the Governors Highway Safety Association, recommends the Bureau of Justice Assistance, Highway Safety offices and departments of transportation. "Go to your local highway safety office," he urges. "They know the funding amounts and the sources in their local area."

   The Bureau of Justice Assistance information can be found at

Radar vs. LIDAR: briefly defined

   Radar guns direct an electromagnetic (microwave) signal at a specified vehicle, and then pick up the return signal off of the vehicle. Radar measures the frequency of the reflected signal and compares it with the frequency of the original signal to calculate the speed of the target vehicle.

   LIDAR (light detection and ranging) devices, on the other hand, use a time/distance calculation to measure speed. When a user aims a laser speed gun's narrow beam of light at the target vehicle, speed is measured by the time it takes to receive the reflected light.

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