I am in the process of answering your question.
Clarification of Answer by
11 Aug 2002 08:29 PDT
Your question sent me down nostalgia lane, back to the 70's crossing
the states in my Datsun hatchback at speeds that ...well never mind
but let's just say that I personally collected enough statistical data
to show that the likelihood of being caught on a Texas highway was far
greater than on a New Mexico highway. What a great topic. Ever since
radar detectors came into use in the 70's, the public and police have
engaged in a sort of cat and mouse game. As soon as the police
improve their tools, someone comes up with a new way to foil them,
though none completely effective.
***The following is for informational purposes only, and is no way
intented to encourage speeding, evading radar or breaking any laws.
Laws regarding the use of these devices vary by jurisdiction. ***
That said, the best place to start is with this terrific explanation
of how speed detection devices and radar detectors and jammers work.
The most pertinent part is on page four, but if you are unfamiliar
with the technology of speed detection, I suggest starting from the
beginning of this short article from HowStuffWorks.
"Modern detectors may also include a light-sensitive panel that
detects the beams from lidar guns. These devices are more difficult to
evade than traditional radar because the beam is much more focused and
it doesn't carry well over long distances. By the time a detector
recognizes the presence of the laser beam, the car is most likely in
the beam's sights already...Speeders may also use a laser jammer. This
works basically the same way as a radar jammer. In addition to a
light-sensitive panel, the detector has its own built-in
light-emitting diodes (LEDs) that produce a light beam of their own.
When this beam shines on the lidar system, the receiver can't
recognize any reflected light and so can't get a clear speed reading.
"Steath" detector can mean one of two things. The first is a detector
that is difficult for police to detect. A document from Duke
University Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering explains
it saying, "Many people employ radar detectors to alert them when they
are being illuminated (or "painted") by police radar. It is illegal to
use radar detectors in some states such as Virginia. Some highway
patrol personnel in states where the use of radar detectors is illegal
employ "radar detector detectors" that detect the minute microwave
energy emitted by radar detectors. Some advanced radar detectors
utilize a "stealth mode" to prevent radar detector detectors from
detecting their presence. Upon detection of police radar emission by
the radar detector, the "stealth mode" causes the detector to turn off
its local oscillator for a short period of time (typically 60
seconds), during which time the detector cannot detect the presence of
police radar nor does it emit radiation."
The second meaning of "stealth" is an installation in the car that is
not visible on casual inspection. The system is installed behind the
dashboard, behind the bumpers and so on. Here are two examples with
photos of stealth installation, the first inside a Porche and the
second inside a Suburban:
(scroll down towards the bottom of the page)
European mortality statistics are discussed in an article entitled,
"Red Cross tackles 40,000 road deaths in Europe, 25 March 2002,
stating, "Fifteen Red Cross Societies from the European Union, with
support from the European Commission, are embarking on a year-long
Road Safety campaign in a bid to reduce the 40,000 deaths on European
roads every year. "
Death tolls on US Highways are discussed in this CNN article, U.S.
highway deaths hit 11-year high in 2001, August 7, 2002 Posted: 9:52
PM EDT (0152 GMT) stating, "Overall U.S. traffic fatalities rose
slightly in 2001 to an 11-year high at more than 42,100 as motorists
traveled 2.77 trillion miles."
I hope this gives you a jump start on your investigation. I will add
a couple of sites and comments shortly.
Request for Answer Clarification by
11 Aug 2002 08:43 PDT
Thanks Here a few more thought for you. If you were an engineer and
toldmy your boss that you had to create design such a device as the
stealth. What would you do. How would you define it according to
What would be the "prudent" thing to do.
What would be the professional thing to do
What would be the moral thing to do.
I am trying to complete a case study in ethics and it is hard to take
a stand when I had no knowledge of what the stealth is. If you you
like to present your side it might help me to come up with a two sides
opions. I have been trying for three weeks.
Clarification of Answer by
11 Aug 2002 09:24 PDT
An ***outstanding*** site for European and worldwide auto mortality
statistics, with a chart by country and additional statistics for
Eastern and Central Europe is found at the link listed below.
(scroll down to see the country table)
Back to the stealth technology, here is the testing writeup by one
manufacturer of such a product and the of results of testing at Speed
Measurement Laboratories in El Paso, Texas "with the most serious
manufacturers of Laser Jammers and Radar Detectors as participants. "
I was impressed by this particular product because it seems to have
tested well both in US and UK tests. They tout "patented stealth
jamming technology." In going over the information I found significant
differences about what works best in the US vs Europe. Find the UK
Another stealth product with good test results: "Elgin, IL March 26,
2002 After extensive tests against a variety of domestic and
foreign police laser guns by Speed Measurement Laboratories, Inc.(SML)
on February 16-17 in El Paso, Texas, K40 Electronics Laser
DefuserPlus was awarded SMLs Performance Certification. This
designation verifies the Laser DefuserPlus detects and deactivates the
speed measurement ability of laser guns and gives drivers the time
needed to react and safely reduce speed."
I cannot recommend a particular product, but suggest you take a look
at the SpeedZone's rating site. They discuss the latest technologies
and publish test results.
So in sum, the new stealth detectors use hidden installation, jamming
techniques effective against both traditional and laser speed
detection devices, and automatic shutoff. As to why it is
profitable, I can answer that speeding tickets are expensive and
repeat offenders are faced with higher insurance rates. Speeders are
willing to pay a lot of money because the return on their investment
is so clear (avoiding tickets and insurance hikes). The devices
themselves are not extraordinarily expensive to produce, cutting edge
technology and research aside. As far as why police are against it,
that goes back to the cat and mouse game I mentioned earlier. Each
time the consumer starts using a better product, enforecement
officials must spend money to re-quip with the newer and better speed
detection devices. Like any organization, they are subject to budget
constraints. Furthermore, I imagine it would be aggravating to have
to keep outwitting speeders, who we must remember are breaking the
law, no two ways about it.
As an aside, a recent USA Today article talks about the new radar
detectors using a frequency close to that of satellite transmissions
in order to evade detection by police. The article, 'New radar
detectors zing small satellite systems', by Paul Davidson, USA TODAY,
06/16/2002 - Updated 08:27 PM ET states, "These services [satellite
transmission of financial data] had coexisted peacefully with radar
detectors, which operate in a different frequency band. But in the
past three years, detector makers have customized their new units for
the nearby satellite band to elude more sophisticated police radar
guns, which can spot detectors in the old frequencies."
If you wish any clarifications about what I've explained, please feel
free to ask. And thanks again for such a fun topic.
Clarification of Answer by
11 Aug 2002 17:12 PDT
Unfortunately, I don't know enough philosophy to debate Kant and
Aristotle. I did remember a similar question being asked recently,
but now that I've looked it up, I see it was posted by you
response given there makes some excellent points! Since you've asked
me to, I'll throw in my ideas, hopefully sparking some thoughts that
allow you to finish your project. It's awful to be stuck at a
What would be the "prudent" thing to do
I interpret "prudent" meaning the best practical solution. The prudent
path would be to do the work as the boss instructs. Otherwise,
you're out on the streets with no job, or at the very least your
position at that company is going to be very tenuous and
uncomfortable. You may have trouble getting another job in the
industry. While doing the work, I would go about looking for a job
that didn't present a moral quandry, if indeed I had a moral problem
with the project.
The professional thing to do
I interpret "professional" to mean is this indended use of an
engineering education. Does it follow the guidelines, if any, set by
that profession? This point is made by physician assisted suicides.
Physicians have a creed, as many view it anyway, to save lives, not
end them. Medical schools teach physicians to prolong and enhance
lives; that is their mission. As I see it, engineers are trained to
produce better and better widgets. They're supposed to use their
training to solve problems. What individuals use the products for is
outside the professional model. For example, engineers design guns,
but are not responsible for how those guns are used. Laws and the
judicial system decide allowable use and possession. Similarly, the
use of radar detection devices is guided by law. From my searches,
plenty of places in the world allow their use. The idea that it's a
'stealth' detector just means it may help someone hide the fact that
they are breaking the law. But an engineer is not involved in law
enforcement, and should not be trying to essentially decide what is
and is not legal.
The moral thing to do
Here is where it gets tough. In a roundabout way, you are helping
someone break the law by designing a device that can foil police
detection methods. Morality is a very relative thing. Each
individual has to decide within his cultural framework and personal
beliefs what is moral. An article in the most recent issue of Money
magazine describes the investment strategy of a Muslim couple, and how
they stayed within their moral guidelines, in this case morals guided
by their religion. Most Westerners have no problem frying up some
bacon for breakfast or paying a mortgage on their house. This couple
did not believe in paying of receiving interest, and they do not buy
mutual funds because they might invest in a company that deals in
pork, or another area they oppose. They were going by their morals,
which are clearly so different from the standard US morals. If you
went across cultures, I believe you would find very few moral beliefs
shared by all. The engineer has to decide for himself whether he
feels it's ok to help someone evade police detection while speeding,
since that is clearly the intent of the item he is asked to design.
Hope that helps!
Clarification of Answer by
11 Aug 2002 18:04 PDT
Bren, here's one more thought. From your question about automobile
death statistics, it would seem that part of the question is how
liable the engineer is for the deaths of all those people. That
rationale says that speeding causes death, and the stealth device aids
speeding. Well, so do faster engines. Does that mean every engineer
who designs a higher performance engine is doing something wrong? If
we all drove vehicles with the power of a golf cart, there would
surely be fewer fatalies.