NMA Reboot: The Unreliability of Radar for Speed Enforcement

This weekly post features recent news stories that highlight and update themes previously covered throughout NMA E-Newsletters and Alerts.

Editor’s Note: Asheville, North Carolina, Police Chief William Anderson recently confirmed that 244 speeding citations issued in the last year were based on readings from radar guns with out-of-date certifications. Police have also identified another 105 tickets that require more research. In North Carolina, radar guns must be calibrated and certified annually for accuracy. No decision has been made whether to dismiss the questionable tickets and refund the fines. This episode illustrates a point the NMA has been making for years: that the use of radar for speed enforcement is inherently unreliable and that the procedures for ensuring accuracy are often overlooked.  

These issues become more acute at the local level, which is one of the reasons the NMA has opposed the use of radar by local police departments in Pennsylvania. Pennsylvania is the only state (or commonwealth) that prohibits local police from using radar, even though lawmakers have proposed many bills over the years to change that. Below is a NMA legislative alert from 2012 urging Pennsylvania members to speak out against such measures. 


NMA Pennsylvania Alert: Stop Expansion of Radar and Laser Use

Pennsylvania is the only state (or commonwealth) in the country that prohibits municipal police from enforcing speed limits with radar. Since 1961, only state troopers have been allowed to use radar and laser for speed enforcement.

Now three related bills seek to change that distinction. Senate Bill 526 and House Bill 1475 would permit local police agencies to use both radar and laser for speed enforcement. House Bill 1041 would authorize the use of radar only.

The NMA opposes the use of radar and laser devices. Both technologies have inherent flaws making them unreliable for speed enforcement, and their use encourages the proliferation of speed traps, which are fundamentally unfair to motorists.

All three bills have been referred to their respective Transportation Committees. We encourage you to contact the committee members along with your local Senate and House members to let them know what you think.

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