GPS vs. Radar Speed Challenge Update: Radar Wins

Illustration for article titled GPS vs. Radar Speed Challenge Update: Radar Wins

The ground-breaking GPS vs. Radar case has been decided and, much to the chagrin of perpetual speeders like myself, the Sonoma County Superior Court has ruled that 17-year-old Shaun Malone was guilty of speeding.

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The court case represented the first time that anyone had contested a ticket based on the data obtained by a GPS tracking device, and it appears that the failure of the defense was due largely to the inability of either side to accurately determine when the radar gun clocked him and where the GPS tracker marked him at 45 mph. Apparently, the system took readings every 30 seconds —if these readings were more frequent, there would have been a much better case for raising reasonable doubt. My guess is that we will see a lot more of these cases turn up as the technology progresses. So all hope is not lost. [Press Democrat]

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DISCUSSION

All GPS systems have a margin of error in their position information (many hand held ones (not car ones) will display this). This margin constantly changes as information changes and more satellites are found etc.

Since the GPS is unable to physically measure speed it works it out by dividing distance travelled by the time you did it in. Since this margin of error means that your distance can change quickly (position can jump around) this is not a totally accurate measure.

I currently have a Garmin GPS here, despite lying on my desk it is reporting a speed of between 0 and 10mph WITHOUT BEING MOVED.

So, GPS speed measurements are not accurate. I cannot vouch for radar however.