Nevada Appeal at 150: Nov. 28, 1969: ‘Little Black Box’ comes to Carson City

By early 1970, 30 Nevada Highway Patrol cars will be outfitted with revolutionary new speed measuring devices which authorities hope will help reduce this state’s annual highway fatality toll.

Known as VASCAR, or Visual Average Speed Computer and Recorder, the electronic devices enable officers to clock speeding autos whether they are coming or going behind or ahead of the police vehicle or even moving on a cross street.

The device works whether the patrolling vehicle is parked or moving. Here’s how VASCAR works:

An officer on patrol spots a possible violator. He chooses any convenient “markers” on the stretch of highway, such as trees, overpasses, driveways or shadows. He then flips the VASCAR “time” switch off when the vehicle passes the second marker. Now “time” is locked into the machine.

The officer travels the same distance in his patrol car flipping the “distance” switch on as he passes the first marker and flipping it off as he passes the second. Now he has distance locked into the machine also, and the device at this point instantly and automatically indicates the computed speed.

Clockings can then be computed by activating only the time switch to measure the time it takes the speeding car to cover the distance. The electronic unit utilizes integrated circuits and a digital compute to provide accuracy to 1/10 of a mile per hour in clocking speeders. A digital read-out of the calculated speed is provided to the officer instantly after the speed has been determined.

This continues the Appeal’s review of news stories and headlines during its Sesquicentennial year.


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