Mike Phippen of Laser Technology Recalls how the LTI 20/20 Marksman Came to Be
A fledgling LTI fresh from a successful demonstration at Edwards Air Force Base, knew they had something special with a working pulse laser to capture both speed and range to non-cooperative targets (little reflectivity).
The next mission was to convince law enforcement of the advantages of laser speed enforcement versus radar utilizing the LTI 20/20 precursor to the Marksman.
Laser Tech Introduces First Commercial Laser Speed Gun with 20/20 Marksman
With a beam divergence of three (3) ft at 1,000 ft down the road, it allowed the officer to pin-point and select any vehicle he/she could see to instantly acquire speed and range. Clearly this was a big advantage over radar that required the officer to wait for the out front ‘lead’ vehicle to emerge while making sure all vehicles with greater density and mass were not present given a beam divergence of 250 ft at 1,000 feet away!
The late Ed Utley, CEO of GEICO Insurance Company read an article in Popular Science Magazine featuring the LTI 20/20 and how it neutralized radar detectors. Utley was so passionate about defeating detector usage he tried to raise premiums on policy holders that admitted to using them.
This aggressive stance eventually failed a legal challenge so Mr. Utley contacted David Williams, the President and CEO of Laser Technology, to discuss how the two companies might work together. As a result, a grateful Ed Utley proclaimed, “LTI is doing God’s work,” lending the company enough money to turn the working demonstration lasers into a manned commercial production line from which the first “Marksman” was born.
The traffic safety industry sat back on its heels and took notice when the LTI 20/20 Marksman was introduced in 1991 for speed enforcement. Laser Technology, Inc. had developed a more accurate method for capturing the speed of a single vehicle even in dense traffic. Not only that, the Marksman made radar detectors ineffective and gave officers the indisputable proof to remove all doubt in court. Amazing!
Transforming the World of Traffic Safety
The first commercial laser speed gun transformed the traffic safety world and officers around the world wanted to get in on the action. Using LIDAR, which stands for light detection and ranging, this portable laser speed device provided the tool they’d all been waiting for. Speeding has always been the leading cause of accidents and deaths on our highways, and now they had a much better and effective way of enforcing speed limits.
The Marksman has since been stored on a shelf and replaced with the TruSpeed, but interestingly 99% of all Marksmans produced are still being used today! LTI is proud to have pioneered the technology that has helped save lives throughout the years. Today, agencies worldwide use our family of laser speed guns to assist not only in speed enforcement, but for tailgating violations, crash and crime scene investigations and more.