If you are in the loop on the newest gadgets you can add to your car, then you’ve probably heard about car radar detectors. It sounds like some hi-tech gadget but it is actually pretty straightforward. Simply put, it’s a gadget that usually works with your dash camera to save you from accumulating speeding tickets. Sounds like magic, right?
What is A Car Radar Detector and How Does it Work?
Well, a car radar detector is not magic. It’s just science – at least that’s what they are selling. The idea is simple. Speed guns or radars that police use to measure the speed of your vehicle emit 3 different bands of radar signals (for the US at least). These are the X band, K band, and Ka band. For our friends in Europe, they have a 4th band called the Ku band. What happens is that these radar signals are emitted from the speed guns and hit your cars then bounce back to the police radar, which will then register the speed of the vehicle.
What radar detectors do is they detect these bands and they give off visual and audio alarms so that the car driver can slow down before they get in the sights of the police. Easiest way to avoid speed traps.
Do they work? In principle, they do. However, a lot of cheaper versions of radar detectors are so inaccurate that you’d get an alarm here and there out of the blue. The good thing is that the newer (and more expensive) models rarely have these problems so as with any other problem in life, the solution for problematic radar detectors is to throw a lot of money at it.
Are Radar Detectors Legal in the US?
Now that you know how car radar detectors work, you might feel like it’s a great thing to add to your car in order to turn it into KITT from Night Rider.
But wait. Is it even legal to put them in your car? If you try to think about it, you are basically installing something on your car that will allow you to circumvent the measures put forth by the authorities to keep the road a safe place.
But let’s see what the rule book says.
If you check the law, at least on the Federal level, there are no laws that prohibit the use of radar detectors on non-commercial vehicles. However, depending on the state you are from, there might be a few that deem radar detector ownership as illegal – such as Virginia and Washington D.C.
If you’re planning to take a trip to Virginia with a car radar detector, one thing worth noting is that while Virginia deems the “use” of radar detectors illegal, their law is written in a way that makes it:
- Legal to own a powered off and stored radar detector (usually in the glove box or trunk)
- Illegal for police to give a driver demerit points if you are caught using a radar detector
If you are caught using a radar detector in Virginia, expect a fine that costs less than the price of a top shelf radar detector. That is why people who drive by Virginia just hide their radar detectors when they detect a speed trap so they don’t get a speeding ticket and they don’t have to pay the fine for owning a radar detector.
Should You Use Car Radar Detectors?
Here’s the part where we take a step back and assess the technology, its uses, and the repercussions. Sure car radar detectors seem cool and they help you identify speed traps.
But if you are a responsible driver, then you shouldn’t even worry about any speed trap at all. In the end, this question boils down to what kind of driver you are. If you are the type that follows the rules for the sake of safety, then you won’t need a radar detector in your car. But if you like to push the pedal to the metal every now and then without having to worry about the police pulling you over, then buy the most expensive one out there to be sure.
Just remember that a radar detector won’t make the road safer for everybody. It just makes it safe for you, against the very people who do their best to keep the road safe.
If you have more questions about your car or if you feel like your car needs some special attention, then drop by T3 Atlanta any time. We are the leading name in Infiniti, Lexus, Nissan, and Toyota auto repair in Atlanta. Our team of expert mechanics will help you repair and keep your car in tip-top shape for years to come.