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Woodstock PD’s Radar Trailer - better read this

American Government Special Collections Reference Desk

McHenry County, Illinois

Woodstock PD’s Radar Trailer - better read this

Gus Philpott
Woodstock Advocate
May 14, 2007

How many times have you driven by the radar speed trailer on a Woodstock street and checked your speedometer?

I’ve tried to do this 2-3 times each year with both vehicles, so that I’d have an idea how accurate my speedometer was.

Today I found out that that’s about all I’ll learn – “about” how accurate my speedometer is. I had thought, up until today, that the speed displayed by the radar trailer was accurate. And why not? Radar speed measurement is accurate, isn’t it? Well, isn’t it? No. Not only “No”, but NO!!!

The radar unit in the speed trailer is not calibrated, which means it is not accurate for measuring speed.

I have recommended to the Woodstock Police Department that they install a sign on the radar trailer, reading “Not to be used to check your speedometer”.

Up until today I thought a radar trailer served a useful purpose, and previously I had recommended to the police department that it post the schedule of deployment for the radar trailer on the City’s website. Good thinking, eh? A public service? Let drivers drive by and check their speedometers.

My thought was that the police department could liven up its website with a photo of the radar trailer, maybe some flashing red and blue lights, a changeable speed read-out on the radar trailer display. Something clever and attention-getting. You know, create a little spark and excitement on the City’s dull and boring website. But it ain’t gonna happen…

Nooooo, bad thinking. The City doesn’t want a lot of drivers (as if a “lot” of drivers would do so) passing by the radar trailer and increasing traffic in the neighborhood of the radar trailer. Part of this I can understand. But it’s not like everybody in town is just waiting for the weekly deployment schedule to be published, so that they can line up and roar by the radar trailer.

If you want to know whether your speedometer is accurate, you are going to have to find a shop with a speedometer calibration device. I had my speedometer calibrated in Denver. What I did was drive my car onto a rack and then stop it with the power wheels on rollers. Then I put it in Drive and let the engine spin the drive wheels, which turned the rollers and caused my “speed” to read out on a meter. I never had great faith in that equipment, but they did give me a card as proof that I had had my speedometer certified.

I do thank Deputy Chief John Neuzil for providing the details about the speed trailer in a prompt and courteous reply to my inquiry.

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