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Radar Gun -- Legality For Private Use

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  • Radar Gun -- Legality For Private Use


    I have a son who is in high school and one of his possible assignments for math class involves percentages/statistics and the like. He is in the process of learning how to drive (has a permit now - Gasp!) and I thought of a great way to kill two birds with one stone.

    One would be to fill in the math angle by measuring the speed of several hundred vehicles on secondary roads (likely 35 and 45 mph zones) and determining the "average" speed versus the legal posted speed. Another might be to help him learn how radar works, how easy it will be for a cop to see HIM ever speed and that obeying the law is generally a good idea to enhance safety.

    There are several easy ways to purchase a radar unit on-line and I am aware of how great they are for sporting events (measuring a baseball pitcher's speed, etc.) and other things outside of the law enforcement realm.

    I am curious as to the legality of using a privately-owned radar gun for "non-cop" purposes. No enforcement action, no flashing of lights -- just measuring the speed of vehicles traveling on the road (but from a safe place OFF the road - while parked in my own car). Does anyone know of any code section that would prohibit such a thing?

    Some neighborhood watch groups use radar guns to 'catch' speeders and then write down their tag numbers. Of course, my son and I would NEVER be doing anything like that. Just think of hiding out of sight with a stationary hand-held unit plugged into my cigarette lighter.

    Thanks for any comments! {By the way, I did take radar certification during my academy days - but that was a long, long time ago.}

    The comments above reflect my personal opinion as a private citizen, ordinary motorist and all-around good guy.

    The aforementioned advice should not be construed to represent any type of professional opinion, legal counsel or other type of instruction with regard to traffic laws, judicial proceedings or official agency policy.

    ------------------------------------------------

    "Ignorance on fire is hotter than knowledge on ice."

  • #2
    Having been certified to teach speed measurement in Virginia I can not recall any provision of VA Code that would prohibit a private citizen from owning and using a radar or LIDAR unit.

    Do understand that there is more to speed measurement than just point and shoot- you have error factors due to offset, etc. If he is truly interested I would suggest reaching out to a local department and asking if they could help with a basic orientation to speed measurement.

    That and a courtesy call to the local PD/SO to let them know what you are looking to do so as to avoid any issues.
    Originally posted by SSD
    It has long been the tradition on this forum and as well as professionally not to second guess or Monday morning QB the officer's who were actually on-scene and had to make the decision. That being said, I don't think that your discussion will go very far on this board.
    Originally posted by Iowa #1603
    And now you are arguing about not arguing..................

    Comment


    • #3

      Thank you for the reply, sir.

      Of course, if we did decide to take this route, I would call the local constabulary. Definitely don't want any "issues" arising from merely trying to assist with my son's education. :-)

      BTW, I was once certified with radar way back in the academy days -- and I understand about ghosting, batching, cosine error (offset), etc. If a number was off by 1 or 2 mph, it won't matter, especially if everyone is off by the same amount. We're not going to have to testify in court or anything like that.

      It'll most likely be several hundred raw numbers, determination of the median, midpoint, mode, etc., etc.

      Thanks again, Sarge!
      Last edited by VA Dutch; 05-21-2014, 05:06 PM.

      The comments above reflect my personal opinion as a private citizen, ordinary motorist and all-around good guy.

      The aforementioned advice should not be construed to represent any type of professional opinion, legal counsel or other type of instruction with regard to traffic laws, judicial proceedings or official agency policy.

      ------------------------------------------------

      "Ignorance on fire is hotter than knowledge on ice."

      Comment


      • #4
        You may not even need one. I skimmed your original post, correct me if I'm wrong, but you plan on using LIDAR to obtain speeds and calculate the average, mean, mode, ect?

        You can simply do that with a stop watch, two points (at a set measured distance say 50') and some simple MATH (which you could tie into your sons project)

        Set your points up with a standard measurement between them, lets say 50'.

        Select a point on the vehicle, the front axle, start the stop watch when the first line is crossed. when the front axle crosses the second point stop the stop watch.

        Now you have your distance traveled and time. Using simple math formula V=D/T

        D=50'
        T=(say 1.36 seconds)
        V=Feet per second

        50/1.36= 36.7 feet per second

        Converted into mph (36.7/1.47 for velocity) and we get roughly 25 mph


        Also known as VASCAR

        Comment


        • #5

          Yes, Ghost, that is how VASCAR works -- and I actually got stopped for speeding in PA by an officer using VASCAR. Local cops cannot use radar in PA - only state troopers have that method of speed measurement available to them - so the local yokels have to get creative.

          I guess it all comes down to rate x time = distance.

          We were not going to use LIDAR - no way I could afford one of those. We'd just use one of the smaller radar units on the market. A 'non-certified' radar gun for sports or being a spectator at a car race will do for this purpose. I can get decent one for about $200 on-line.

          Again, we're not going to be "neighborhood watch" vigilantes or yelling at people to slow down. The objective is to gather data without even being seen or noticed. :-)

          The comments above reflect my personal opinion as a private citizen, ordinary motorist and all-around good guy.

          The aforementioned advice should not be construed to represent any type of professional opinion, legal counsel or other type of instruction with regard to traffic laws, judicial proceedings or official agency policy.

          ------------------------------------------------

          "Ignorance on fire is hotter than knowledge on ice."

          Comment


          • #6

            P.S. I really like the idea of inducing some math into the equation. Any kid can use some of that nowadays!

            The comments above reflect my personal opinion as a private citizen, ordinary motorist and all-around good guy.

            The aforementioned advice should not be construed to represent any type of professional opinion, legal counsel or other type of instruction with regard to traffic laws, judicial proceedings or official agency policy.

            ------------------------------------------------

            "Ignorance on fire is hotter than knowledge on ice."

            Comment

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