Radar detectors improve your odds of not getting ticketed for speeding, but they do not make you invulnerable. We should preface this discussion by saying that we encourage drivers to obey speed limits and drive safely at all times, but if you happen to have a lead foot and feel the need to equip yourself with a radar detector, there are a few things you should know.


As their name implies, radar detectors detect radar signals – providing there are signals to detect. Typically, a police officer will be positioned in an opportune location with his radar equipment transmitting a steady signal, waiting for vehicles to pass through the radar field to determine their speed. This could be compared to a fishing trawler that deploys a large net and scoops up fish as they pass in front of it. However, one way the police can defeat many radar detectors is to utilize an “instant on” method of catching their quarry. This involves waiting until a vehicle is within range, then blasting it with the radar equipment. This is more like a sniper than a fishing trawler. Once you are hit with the radar, your speed is revealed, and although your detector will sound immediately, it is already too late.


The flip side of this coin, at least for law enforcement, is that it can typically cite one vehicle at a time. If you are the only car on the road, you’re pretty much done. But if you happen to be behind the targeted vehicle, you may have time to react to your detector’s alarm and slow down.


If you roll with a radar detector, you may notice false alarms with greater frequency now than ever before. Suddenly, your unit sounds an alarm, and as your proceed with caution, you discover no apparent source of the threat. Perhaps a semi or two roll by, or maybe just regular vehicle traffic going about their business. Collision avoidance technology is rapidly becoming a feature on many new vehicles today, and happens to use radar detection in various forms to do what it needs to do. Unfortunately, radar detectors cannot differentiate between the sources of the radar – at least not yet. One workaround is to reduce your unit’ sensitivity, in hopes of cutting out some of the false alarms. But this can be a tricky endeavor, as too much reduction may blind you to the real police radar.


Swing by the Communications Center to discuss the right detector for your needs and hopefully save yourself a legal headache or two down the road…

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