Friday, July 13, 2007

Mess with the Bull, Get the Horns

450 mile journey to Ohio on July 12th 2007

You mess with the bull and sometimes you get the horns.

As a friend in the business told me last night, you drive fast enough and long enough and eventually you are going to get nailed, it's purely a numbers game. And nailed I was—after many many thousands of miles of successful encounters.

But let's start with the good stuff first. I decided to cut my tether to the high-end radar detectors and drive my entire trip from Pennsylvania to Ohio using only a Whistler Pro-78.

All I can say is this detector is a real pleasure to drive with. It has a very high level of composure and feels thoroughly sorted out.

I threw everything at this radar detector and did not pull any punches with it on my drive of the Pennsylvania and Ohio Turnpikes. And it handled it all beautifully, alerting when it needed to and staying quiet when it didn't. Approaching an instant-on K trap around Somerset, the Whistler Pro 78 alerted to advanced trigger pulls to cars that were ahead of me and allowed me to adjust my speed with plenty of time before it was my turn.

I had the rare pleasure of pairing up with another vehicle [driver] that wasn't afraid to test the limits of their car and their driving skills on the western portion of the PA turnpike where the road gets windy. We finally met up at a gas station, where we chatted a little while (hope you'll be a regular reader of the blog, dude).

Unfortunately I didn't fair as well in Ohio this time around as I did in Pennsylvania. And the fault was mine, not the Whistler Pro 78.

It was about 21.40, it was dark and I was on the cel phone. The Whistler had announced LASER, but it wasn't until the tone alert that I realized what was happening. I suspect my inattentiveness cost me about 1-1.5 seconds of reaction time. As it was I was able to peel about 8 miles per hour off my speed, but alas, it wasn't enough—87 in a 65 zone. Distance punch through occured in this instance at 1300, meaning he initially targeted me at about 1500-1550 feet, given that my closure was occuring at roughly 140 feet per second.

In my opinion, several factors collaborated to work against me in this particular instance:

1) Most importantly, being distracted from my environment while being on the phone. It cost me precious reaction time.
2) Driving an '07 metallic silver 328xi which has a pretty lousy frontal laser cross-section. That front bumper has a lot of vertical surface that was not treated with Veil.
3) Driving at night, when the range of police laser goes up significantly.
4) He was shooting me almost directly from the front, with his LTI.
5) I wasn't supplemented with a jammer (such as the Blinder xTreme M-25) or a black bra (think, defense-in-depth).
6) I was driving a bit too fast and the margin of speed to peel off was too much, had my initial speed been closer to 80mph (instead of 95mph) I would have had a fighting chance.
7) Jwardell's comments on the alerting nature of the Pro 78 are spot-on. The audio alerting mechanism may be better served reversed (like the radar bands). Instead of the detector alerting first with the voice LASER, the attention of the driver would be grabbed more quickly and urgently with the tone alert first followed by the band announcement. For now, I am going to disable voice alerting. That should help provide me some additional reaction time (every millisecond counts).
8) I was pretty much all by myself in the left-lane, with not many cars around me.
9) I was tired after driving almost 400 miles non-stop and that couldn't have helped my reaction time.
10) I've gotten a little too casual of late, feeling completely immune to the wrath of speed enforcement.

I have had two night encounters driving with Veil only, this one included. The previous encounter was against the Florida Highway Patrol (FHP) with another rental/loaner (red Dodge Magnum wagon) and I was successful at avoiding that one—in what was a similar targeting scenario. So, with Veil only in the evening, I am batting .500.

From now on, I am going to try to remember to get out of the left-lane and slow down a bit when I am on the cel phone, especially at night.

For now, I am going to look at this experience as taking one for the team.

Happy and safe motoring!

Veil Guy
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