The use of VASCAR in speed enforcement is nothing new, but still popular, presumably due to the increasing number of vehicles equipped with radar and laser detectors. Since VASCAR is based on visual observation and does not incorporate the use of radar or laser guns, it cannot be detected with a radar detector. The use of additional detection enhancement technologies such as Escort Live! and other national "real-time" traffic threat databases may help alert drivers to possible VASCAR zones proactively in some situations, but if VASCAR is used in a mobile scenario, even those "detection" methods likely won't work. VASCAR is, in effect, undetectable.
How do you defeat VASCAR? Simply put, you can't. However, if you know its limitations, and with the help of fellow travelers, you can defend yourself against it.
Before you try to defend against a VASCAR threat, you need to know what VASCAR is and how it works. To simplify the system, markers are placed on or near the road at a measured distance apart. When a vehicle passes the first marker, the officer starts a timer. When the vehicle passes the last marker, the officer stops the timer. The time it took for the vehicle to pass the distance between the markers is calculated to determine its average speed.
There are some definite advantages that make VASCAR an attractive option for speed enforcement agencies. Unlike measures such as radar and laser, VASCAR allows officers to stay some distance from the road or even above it, providing more concealment, thus ensuring an element of undetected surveillance and surprise.
However, there are also considerable disadvantages to VASCAR. Whether on the ground or in the air, VASCAR relies on favorable conditions for sighting the target vehicle, which means that, although it can be used at night, it isn't practical for use under inclement weather conditions that can severely limit visibility, such as heavy rain or fog. In addition, an accurate measurement largely depends on the visual acuity and motor skills of the individual officer operating the VASCAR device and "clocking" each vehicle. If the reaction time of the officer is inconsistent when the vehicle passes each marker, the calculated speed of the vehicle can be inaccurate.
Also, the officer must observe the vehicle as it traverses the distance between the markers. This means only a single vehicle is clocked at a time. If traffic is very heavy or other vehicles are obscuring the view of the target vehicle, the accuracy of visual observation is affected. While these disadvantages may not necessarily prevent a ticket, they may make it easier to contest it, if the driver understands them and can prove one or more of those conditions existed at the time he or she was "clocked".
Beating a VASCAR ticket isn't guaranteed, of course, and your chances will depend a lot on the circumstances and how prepared you are to fight it. However, you can still utilize countermeasures that can minimize your chances of getting one in the first place. When it comes to VASCAR, your best countermeasure is your own sensory perception. More specifically, it is your ability to pick up visual cues and to listen and communicate with the other drivers around you.
- Watch for signs that VASCAR may be in use. Yes, we're talking about literal signs. Some jurisdictions actually post signs warning motorists that speed is checked by VASCAR. If it is a nice, clear day and you pass a sign warning you that speed is monitored by aircraft, don't assume it's a fake. Some states actually rely on aircraft surveillance a lot. Take the hint, and drive with caution.
- Watch for anything that could serve as a VASCAR marker. Sometimes various roadside items are used as markers such as reflectors, bridges, and light posts, but more often you will encounter sections of road with lines, boxes or other markings painted on the road or near the edges of it. These are obvious signs, as Rod Serling could have said, that you are about to enter The VASCAR Zone (he probably never said it, but he could have).
- Watch for other vehicles pacing you. Don't be paranoid about it, but if you're being followed and the other driver seems to be checking your speed, it could be an unmarked patrol car clocking you.
- Drop your speed before you hit the markers. VASCAR results are based on your average speed calculated between the markers, not your highest or lowest speed reached while in the Zone. Once you pass the first marker, it's too late.
- Look up. Don't take you're eyes off the road unnecessarily, of course, but when you are scanning the road and the traffic around you (presumably while also watching the road ahead), don't forget to check above, as well. You won't always hear a plane or chopper when you are inside your vehicle, especially with the windows up, so a visual check may be necessary. If you see one, it could be from the local radio station doing their traffic reports. Then again, maybe not. Just saying.
- Consider adding Escort Live! to your detection system. It isn't a full countermeasure against VASCAR, but in some situations it can help alert you to areas where VASCAR may be in use, and the possibility of a warning is better than no warning at all.
- Add a CB radio to your radar and laser detection system. When it comes to staying alert to possible threats of any kind, communication is key. The ability to listen to chatter from other drivers and communicate with them can keep you "in the loop" on traffic conditions and traffic enforcement threats, especially those beyond your immediate view. In other words, "heads up" warnings and alerts from other drivers have long been a reliable and important countermeasure against traffic enforcement threats, and when it comes to an undetectable system such as VASCAR, it may be the only one that keeps you from getting nailed. No, not every other driver has a CB radio, but millions do, and your chances of getting a VASCAR alert over your CB radio are a lot better if you have one - a radio, that is. They are relatively inexpensive, easy to use, and they are legal to own and operate. It is a small investment for something that may help when your radar detector or other detection tools won't.
- Keep your CB radio on and listen to truckers. No one knows the roads like a trucker. They aren't perfect, but they sit a lot higher on the highway than most of the rest of us do, and from their vantage point they can often see things the rest of us can't. They may be able to catch a glimpse of the trooper on top of an approaching overpass or that VASCAR plane over your head when you can't. And since they can't legally have radar detectors in their rigs, they tend to keep each other up to speed on possible threats, and chances are they are watching for things you aren't. Keep your CB radio on, listen in and pay attention to alerts. When you are on the lookout for VASCAR and other hidden threats, a trucker can be your best friend.
VASCAR may be undetectable to your radar detector, and you may not be able to completely defeat it, but there are ways to minimize the threat of a ticket. Read the signs, watch for markers, pay attention to what is happening on the road around you and expand your detection system with additional tools such as Escort Live! and a CB radio to share alerts and communicate with other drivers. These are all countermeasures that, when utilized collectively, can help you get through The VASCAR Zone unscathed. However, there is no one detection device that will do it all for you. When you enter the VASCAR Zone, the best countermeasure is you.