If you are considering the purchase of a radar detector for your vehicle, it would be wise of you to educate yourself on them before hand. Manufacturers of these devices know how to promote their features well. Many of them trust in consumer ignorance to increase their sales.
- Illegal in some places – It is illegal to use radar detectors in the State of Virginia. In Canada, the use of radar detectors is illegal in seven out of the nine provinces, although it is still legal to own a radar detector in more than half of the provinces.
- Range – The range of radar detectors varies with the type and model, but some of the best models can detect police radar as much as 14 miles away.
- Money Savers – Many people see radar detectors as an expensive piece of equipment. However, if you’ve ever received a speeding ticket, you know that the overall cost of that ticket is much more than the cost of a high quality radar detector. In addition to fine, you must pay for the ticket. It generally also means a rise in your insurance rates for several years. Those higher insurance rates are what is truly expensive.
- Different types – Not all radar detectors are created equal. There are dash mounted units that must be plugged in. There are also cordless models, battery powered models and remote detectors.
- False Alarms – Many radar detectors have a tendency to sound false alarms in urban areas. Often times they are picking up the signals of door openers and burglar alarms rather than police radar frequencies.
- Bandwidths – There are only four bandwidths that law enforcement use with their radar scanners. Radar Detectors that promote the fact that they cover more bandwidths than those four are not really providing you with any additional protection.
- Laser detection – Some radar detectors advertise the fact that they look for laser scans in all directions, not just in front and behind the vehicle. This is another meaningless feature. The only directions you need to be concerned with for police laser scanning is in front and behind your vehicle.
- GPS based detectors – These radar detectors have the advantage of being able to warn you about known speed camera locations ahead of time. They also are able to accurately sense the speed that you are going and adjust their sensitivity to the appropriate level, which can decrease false alarms.
- Pop Mode radar detectors – Although these short burst radar guns do exist, there are very few of them in use any more. These pop mode radar readings are also not acceptable as evidence to warrant a ticket. Therefore, detectors which list this as one of their selling features, are again, blowing smoke.
- Display and Sound – The types of displays and sound alerts available on the different units can make a big difference on the effectiveness of a radar detector. If you can’t read the display in bright sunlight or can’t hear the warning sounds over traffic noise, they don’t do you much good.
As you can see, there can be a lot of useless hype related to radar detectors. This doesn’t mean that they can’t or don’t do the job. It just means that you need to do your research so you aren’t paying for features that have little or no value.