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View Full Version : Is there a moral justification for automobile radar detectors?


Drum God
04-09-2009, 09:08 AM
My daughter got married last week and one of the possessions her new husband has brought into her life is a radar detector. My daughter now has this detector installed in her new Ford Focus. (Her husband is a soldier about to be deployed overseas, so he's not using the radar detector himself.)

So, my question for debate is, is the use of a radar detector morally justifiable? My daughter is an adult and can do what she wishes, but I have several problems with this radar detector.

For one, the device's sole purpose is to evade the law. Speed limits serve a legitimate public purpose in that they help make the public roadways safer. Therefore, speed limits must be enforced and police radars are an effective way to do this. A radar detector is designed to alert the speeding motorist that a radar is in use nearby so that she may slow down before the officer detects her speeding.

I also question the wisdom of having my daughter exceeding the speed limit in a small, compact car (for which I am a cosigner on the loan). The car is a competent, but is not a speedster. It would be easy for her to exceed the capabilities of the vehicle, especially if she thinks she can do so with impunity. The radar detector may help her evade man-made laws, but it will not help her evade the Laws of Motion.

So, any thoughts?

jtgain
04-09-2009, 09:32 AM
I don't think speeding should be classified as "immoral". It is malum prohibitum and not malum in se.

In my opinion, the fact that speed limits are woefully mismatched with the speed that a normal, careful motorist would travel on a given roadway is good enough for me to get any edge to defeat the enforcement.

scr4
04-09-2009, 09:42 AM
I don't think speeding should be classified as "immoral". It is malum prohibitum and not malum in se.

Is it not malum in se to break a law just because you disagree with the law?

DrCube
04-09-2009, 09:43 AM
There is a difference between radar detectors and radar jammers. The latter are immoral, in my opinion, because they deceive the authorities. Radar detectors are really no different than slowing down when you see a police car on the highway; they just give you an earlier warning to slow down.

I guess the question is, would you rather have your daughter slow down in the presence of an officer, thereby forcing her to drive safer and avoid expensive tickets, or would you rather her drive fast all the time, consequences be damned? If she's anything like the rest of the driving public, there is very little chance that the radar detector actually makes her drive faster. It just allows her to slow down when necessary.

Furthermore, what makes the speed limit "moral"? I agree that driving too fast can be dangerous, but I'm highly skeptical that the city council or state legislature has managed to set the optimal maximum safe speed in all conditions for every road in their jurisdiction. Frankly, I think they attempt to maximize revenue when setting speed limits, not safety.

It's Not Rocket Surgery!
04-09-2009, 09:46 AM
I also question the wisdom of having my daughter exceeding the speed limit in a small, compact car (for which I am a cosigner on the loan). The car is a competent, but is not a speedster. It would be easy for her to exceed the capabilities of the vehicle, especially if she thinks she can do so with impunity. The radar detector may help her evade man-made laws, but it will not help her evade the Laws of Motion.

So, any thoughts?

A new Focus may be compact, but exceed its capabilities? Not unless she's going over 100 mph! That car should be capable of relatively safe transportation at 80-85.

If it makes you feel better - if your area is using laser speed guns, the detector will do little or nothing to keep her from getting tickets.

jtgain
04-09-2009, 10:04 AM
Is it not malum in se to break a law just because you disagree with the law?

Only the good laws ;)

The Tao's Revenge
04-09-2009, 10:24 AM
Is it not malum in se to break a law just because you disagree with the law?

Well in some traffic situations not speeding means one doesn't keep with the flow of traffic. This can increase the risk of an accident.

Is it moral to put people's lives and limbs at increased risk just to follow the law?

How about weed? Some people feel they have inherent natural rights to weed on the level of free speech, and rights to privacy. They feel that antiweed laws are unjust, and immoral. Are they immoral if they partake of weed in violation of what they feel is an immoral and unjust law?

There was a time when when Black people had to sit at the back of the bus and give up their seat to white people. Was Rosa Parks immoral for breaking this law? She's stated before she didn't do for it some big civil rights demonstration. She did it because she was tired from working hard that day and didn't want to get up. She broke the law because she disagreed with it. Was she immoral?

Finally the DMCA is used by the scientology cult to harass it's critics. Are it's critics immoral?

The DMCA also makes discussing breaking encryption a crime. Where the people who wrote unauthorized DVD players for Linux immoral?

I say this because some web sights disable right clicking through javascript to try to stop you from copying pics or text or something. However this also disables right clicking for other functions such opening in new tabs, view info, view source, etc. To restore the right click menu in firefox go to tools->options->content-> then click the advanced button by "enable javascript" and uncheck disable or replace context menus.

By telling you how to keep your right click functional I have just told you how to circumvent a copyright protection scheme and broken the law under the DMCA.

Am I immoral?

The Tao's Revenge
04-09-2009, 10:32 AM
Only the good laws ;)

What does this mean? As outlined above there really is bad laws.

jtgain
04-09-2009, 10:33 AM
What does this mean? As outlined above there really is bad laws.

It was meant to be tongue in cheek. It is bad to break the good laws, but feel free to break the bad laws.

Discipline
04-09-2009, 10:47 AM
Speed limits serve a legitimate public purpose in that they help make the public roadways safer.

No (http://www.motorists.org/speedlimits/home/safety-setting-speed-limits/#CONCLUSION) they don't. (http://www.motorists.org/blog/national-speed-limit-effect-on-traffic-safety-fuel-prices/)

The Tao's Revenge
04-09-2009, 10:50 AM
It was meant to be tongue in cheek. It is bad to break the good laws, but feel free to break the bad laws.

Yea you were. I think I better take a walk till I'm in a better mood. Sorry yo.

Tom Tildrum
04-09-2009, 11:11 AM
Make the point to her that the detector doesn't guarantee that she's not going to get ticketed where there isn't a radar gun. She may get paced by a police officer, or she may set off a camera. And really excessive speed may cause her to lose control of the car.

Thus, while the detector may emphasize the need to slow down when it goes off, she shouldn't regard it as facilitating speeding at times when it's not.

Are they even legal where she is? In Virginia they're not.

begbert2
04-09-2009, 11:56 AM
There is the philosophy that no information is inherently immoral - how you choose to act on information may be, but that's a personal problem and has (philosophically speaking) nothing to do with the radar detector.

Also, all the radar detector does is encourage you to obey the law at certain times. If there's any moral issue here, it's your decision to speed in the first place, which is not something the radar detector makes you do. While there is a correlation between speeding and use of radar detectors, it seems to me that that's most likely caused by the fact that people who don't tend to speed don't buy the things. I don't personally believe that a radar detector increases a person's likelihood of speeding. It just helps those that do avoid getting pegged for it, a little, by speeding a little less at opportune times.

Santos L Halper
04-09-2009, 12:00 PM
Are they even legal where she is? In Virginia they're not.

Radar detectors are illegal in private vehicles in Virginia and Washington DC (they're illegal in a couple of other states in commercial vehicles).

Radar jammers are illegal in all states because you're actively broadcasting a signal. Detectors are just picking up the signal broadcast from the police's radar gun.

Man With a Cat
04-09-2009, 12:00 PM
I don't believe you can definitively state that the sole purpose of a radar detector is to evade the law. It detects when radar is in use, but presuming that anyone uses it to evade prosecution isn't a logical - probably likely, but not strict - next step. Regardless of your views on speed limits, having the ability to be aware of the presence of law enforcement monitoring my behavior anywhere isn't immoral at all.

Giles
04-09-2009, 12:06 PM
Regardless of your views on speed limits, having the ability to be aware of the presence of law enforcement monitoring my behavior anywhere isn't immoral at all.
So, if a person offered you $100 to stand on a street corner, and send him a message on a cell phone or on a two-way radio if you saw a police officer approaching, you would not see any moral issues in such a proposition? He hasn't told you of any illegal activity that he is about to engage in, but he just wants to know about the presence of law enforcement.

begbert2
04-09-2009, 12:20 PM
So, if a person offered you $100 to stand on a street corner, and send him a message on a cell phone or on a two-way radio if you saw a police officer approaching, you would not see any moral issues in such a proposition? He hasn't told you of any illegal activity that he is about to engage in, but he just wants to know about the presence of law enforcement.I think this *hilights* the fact that the issue is the crime, not the knowledge itself - it's a crime and immoral to be an accomplice (lookout) to a crime, but it's not a crime or immoral to do a study on the distribution of police in the city. What you're actually doing with the information matters!

Which is to say, it's not a crime or immoral to have a radar detector in your car; it's a crime (and debatably immoral) to speed - whether or not you use a radar detector to try and avoid getting caught.

The Tao's Revenge
04-09-2009, 12:21 PM
nvm

John DiFool
04-09-2009, 01:43 PM
For one, the device's sole purpose is to evade the law.

So, any thoughts?

Yeah. Bull Effin' Honkey. I use one, even though at worst I only speed moderately, because I never know if I will run into Patrolman Bumfutz who (A) is desperate to reach his quota (and don't go telling me about the myth that there ain't no quotas, especially if you get all semantic-al on me about it-call them whatever you want, they still exist), and/or (B) doesn't know how to use his radar/laser gun, such that he gets a speed reading off the SUV behind me, thinks I was the one speeding (because he didn't pay attention when they trained him, or they never trained him properly in the first place, or notices that I am out of state, and the SUV is not), and pulls me over instead.

Yes, most police are honest, fair, & competent, but all it takes is one (or a department) who isn't, and I'm looking at several hundred if not thousand in raised insurance fees. No frickin' thanks.

Drum God
04-09-2009, 01:51 PM
Thanks for the conversation. This has caused me to think about this issue differently. I personally have never purchased a radar detector because I felt that its only purpose was to evade detection during the commission of a crime. It's not that I'm a saint -- I have exceeded the speed limit a time or two and I have received a few traffic tickets over my twenty four years of being a licensed driver. As I have grown older, I have also gotten to driving much closer to the speed limit (although the maximum speed limit has increased from 55mph in my youth to 70mph and even 80mph today.) It is possible that the speed limit has simply caught up to where I was already driving.

I like the notion that possession or collection of information cannot itself be immoral. It is the action after the receipt of the information that can be suspect. In the case of a radar detector, obeying the speed limit is the desired behavior and the knowledge that a radar is active in the area encourages the desired behavior.

What about Giles analogy, though? Does the guy standing watch on the corner have a moral obligation to learn what the information he collects will be used for? If he is asked to observe police activity because a legitimate authority is studying police patterns, then this could be a correct thing to do. The use of police could be a viable area of study by the local university, news media, public watchdog group, etc. If a shady-looking guy asked me to watch for the cops, it seems to me that I have a moral obligation to refuse since I suspect he will use this information to assist in committing a crime. In fact, I may be morally obligated to act by summoning the police or otherwise intervening.

So, are the manufacturers and dealers of radar detectors obligated to learn what their customer's intentions are? I don't see a way to realistically do that, but isn't there some sort of liability here? Maybe I need a radar detector because I want to terrorize the community with my blazing speed. Maybe I want a radar detector as I speed out of town with my ill-gotten booty and I want to avoid any police entanglements. What if the Oklahoma City bomber had had a radar detector? (Wasn't he apprehended in an ordinary traffic stop?)

BrandonR
04-09-2009, 02:24 PM
First of all, speed limits aren't always reasonable or safely chosen. Some are notoriously low and police often set up speed traps in such areas. In this case, at least, I would think it's the law enforcement side that is being immoral. Speed limits are supposed to keep citizens safe, but sometimes they're used to create speed traps and being in extra revenue for police departments. Besides, I often view speeding as more of a driving tax than an actual crime. If you're going 60 in a 30? Sure, that's dangerous and doesn't need to happen. However, some overzealous officers cite people for going a few mph over the limit. It's also ironic that most often the people I see breaking speed limits left and right are indeed the police, simply because they don't have to follow speed limits in the first place.

Cheesesteak
04-09-2009, 02:29 PM
Which is to say, it's not a crime or immoral to have a radar detector in your car; it's a crime (and debatably immoral) to speed - whether or not you use a radar detector to try and avoid getting caught.When I was a youthful leadfoot, I would often pick another fast moving car, let him get way ahead of me, but still in sight so that I could use him as a "blocker". He would either get caught by a cop, or hit his brakes upon seeing a cop, and I'd slow down accordingly.

Is this MORE immoral than just speeding without thinking about avoiding a ticket? Or, if you will, is it LESS immoral to speed (or commit any other crime, major or minor) as long as you don't take any steps to avoid being caught?

BlinkingDuck
04-09-2009, 02:40 PM
Radar detectors are of limited use.

First of all, there is equipment police can use that radar detectors won't detect. Even if you get the newest wizbang detector...by next year they will have something it won't detect.

Second, the only real use it has is by detecting the police using it on other cars. So if you are driving along and hear:

beep.........beeep.............

followed by beep......beep...... a few seconds later and you notice that it seems to happen when the car in front of you crests a hill then you know the law is on the other side of the hill tagging people.

HOWEVER...if there is no one in front of you and you crest the hill you will hear...

beep..beep.bebebebbepbeepbeepbeepbeepbepbpbpbpbp....

So...the radar detector just allows you to know a few seconds earlier than you would have known...that you've been busted.

:D

{Bduck...that used detectors in his youth :)}

FoieGrasIsEvil
04-09-2009, 02:46 PM
First of all, speed limits aren't always reasonable or safely chosen. Some are notoriously low and police often set up speed traps in such areas. In this case, at least, I would think it's the law enforcement side that is being immoral. Speed limits are supposed to keep citizens safe, but sometimes they're used to create speed traps and being in extra revenue for police departments. Besides, I often view speeding as more of a driving tax than an actual crime. If you're going 60 in a 30? Sure, that's dangerous and doesn't need to happen. However, some overzealous officers cite people for going a few mph over the limit. It's also ironic that most often the people I see breaking speed limits left and right are indeed the police, simply because they don't have to follow speed limits in the first place.

This is exactly the reason I think radar detectors are just fine. Most people that use them do so in order to not get a speeding ticket for going, say, 62mph in a 55mph zone, which may or may not be a reasonable amount of speed over the limit given the conditions, but generally is and is also generally equal to the amount of speed over the limit most other vehicles are travelling at.

The other side too is that people whom do use them to try to drive recklessly fast are often going so fast that by the time the detector lets them know there's a radar signal, they don't have enough time to slow down anyway, so it's of little use in that instance.

And can we go back to the halcyon days of calling them "fuzzbusters", please? I like that term so much better.

"Look out, man, it's the fuzz, ya dig?"

Rand Rover
04-09-2009, 03:25 PM
Why does it matter whether using a radar detector is "morally justifiable"? You have formed an opinion on the matter. It seems that you want to say that it is not "morally justifiable" just so you can feel that your opinion has some objective truth to it. Why do that? Why can't you just be happy having your own opinion?

The Tao's Revenge
04-09-2009, 03:46 PM
Thanks for the conversation. This has caused me to think about this issue differently. I personally have never purchased a radar detector because I felt that its only purpose was to evade detection during the commission of a crime. It's not that I'm a saint -- I have exceeded the speed limit a time or two and I have received a few traffic tickets over my twenty four years of being a licensed driver. As I have grown older, I have also gotten to driving much closer to the speed limit (although the maximum speed limit has increased from 55mph in my youth to 70mph and even 80mph today.) It is possible that the speed limit has simply caught up to where I was already driving.

I like the notion that possession or collection of information cannot itself be immoral. It is the action after the receipt of the information that can be suspect. In the case of a radar detector, obeying the speed limit is the desired behavior and the knowledge that a radar is active in the area encourages the desired behavior.

What about Giles analogy, though? Does the guy standing watch on the corner have a moral obligation to learn what the information he collects will be used for? If he is asked to observe police activity because a legitimate authority is studying police patterns, then this could be a correct thing to do. The use of police could be a viable area of study by the local university, news media, public watchdog group, etc. If a shady-looking guy asked me to watch for the cops, it seems to me that I have a moral obligation to refuse since I suspect he will use this information to assist in committing a crime. In fact, I may be morally obligated to act by summoning the police or otherwise intervening.

So, are the manufacturers and dealers of radar detectors obligated to learn what their customer's intentions are? I don't see a way to realistically do that, but isn't there some sort of liability here? Maybe I need a radar detector because I want to terrorize the community with my blazing speed. Maybe I want a radar detector as I speed out of town with my ill-gotten booty and I want to avoid any police entanglements. What if the Oklahoma City bomber had had a radar detector? (Wasn't he apprehended in an ordinary traffic stop?)

I think the point should be made there's a difference between a tool and an accomplice. Are crowbars, or crowbar makers responsible for when a crowbar is used to break into a house? If so what about the employees working at the fabrication facility enabling the company to sell crowbars? The people who mined the iron?

You just have to sell tools on good faith. Now the guy standing on the corner looking for the cops has a duty to find out why he's looking for the cops. Unlike a crowbar, or radar detector he has sapience and free will. You have to use a little common sense. If the cop look out honestly thinks the other person has moral and legal intentions then I don't see anything wrong with that. However who wouldn't think there was something fishy there?



Plus think about context. 2009 America while the other guy goes into a jewelry store, bank, quicky-mart. Most likely up to no good. But what about WW2 France during the German occupation of Paris? A 2009 civil rights movement in China? A place where they're distrustful of the police force?

Drum God
04-09-2009, 03:47 PM
Why does it matter whether using a radar detector is "morally justifiable"? You have formed an opinion on the matter. It seems that you want to say that it is not "morally justifiable" just so you can feel that your opinion has some objective truth to it. Why do that? Why can't you just be happy having your own opinion?

I posed this question to get the very discussion we are having. I have formed an opinion on the matter. I have based action (or, in this case, inaction) on that opinion -- I will not purchase a radar detector. If one is in a car I am using, I will not turn it on. I can live with the consequences.

With my daughter having just married and her husband being the person who has brought this radar detector into her life, I am continuing to form my opinion about him. I want my daughter to be involved with a man with good morals. I certainly don't expect a saint (and he certainly isn't one), but these things illustrate the depth of his character. Given the discussion in this thread, I have softened my reaction to the radar detector.

Thank you all. This discussion has, for me, served its purpose.

Deeg
04-09-2009, 03:52 PM
First of all, speed limits aren't always reasonable or safely chosen.
The better response would be to get the speed limit changed rather than surreptitiously breaking the law.

scabpicker
04-09-2009, 03:52 PM
Radar detectors are of limited use.

First of all, there is equipment police can use that radar detectors won't detect. Even if you get the newest wizbang detector...by next year they will have something it won't detect.


This is a silly argument. If they are shooting a beam of energy at you, it can most likely be detected


Second, the only real use it has is by detecting the police using it on other cars. So if you are driving along and hear:

beep.........beeep.............

followed by beep......beep...... a few seconds later and you notice that it seems to happen when the car in front of you crests a hill then you know the law is on the other side of the hill tagging people.

HOWEVER...if there is no one in front of you and you crest the hill you will hear...

beep..beep.bebebebbepbeepbeepbeepbeepbepbpbpbpbp....

So...the radar detector just allows you to know a few seconds earlier than you would have known...that you've been busted.

:D

{Bduck...that used detectors in his youth :)}

And this is not true, as long as you are quick on the brakes, and are in an area where you expect to be targeted. It takes a non zero amount of time for the radar/lidar gun to get a lock on you, and they have a harder time while your speed is changing.

That said, nothing is gonna keep you (or me) from being foolish if we are determined to do it. The radar detector isn't immoral, and if you speed like a nut, you will get tickets anyway. The only ticket I have had since purchasing my current detector has been from being paced by a cop who said he saw the cord hanging down, so he knew not to turn on his gun. It was a completely fair nab, since I was well exceeding the flow of traffic. Not all tickets I have received were fair, hence the usage of the detector. The success of the device is very dependent on the make/model of the detector and how you use it. I have had cheap detectors in the past that just led to scenarios like the one mentioned by Bduck above. If she just gets in the car and speeds without thinking about the situation she is in, and paying close attention to the detector, it will just help her know sooner that her wallet will be lighter.

One example of a moral use of the information provided by radar detectors: If I am driving along, and I all of a sudden get 3-4 K or Ka radar signals at once, I know that there is something up ahead that probably merited the use of 3-4 cop cars, likely a bad accident. I naturally slow down.

Edit: Actually, that's not a silly argument. But it just means that it's a tech race, and you have to keep up if you are really going to use it all the time.

The Tao's Revenge
04-09-2009, 03:55 PM
This is a silly argument. If they are shooting a beam of energy at you, it can most likely be detected


That's true, but you need equipment to sense it. If the radar is on a new frequency then chances are an older radar detector isn't built to listen on that frequency.

begbert2
04-09-2009, 03:59 PM
When I was a youthful leadfoot, I would often pick another fast moving car, let him get way ahead of me, but still in sight so that I could use him as a "blocker". He would either get caught by a cop, or hit his brakes upon seeing a cop, and I'd slow down accordingly.

Is this MORE immoral than just speeding without thinking about avoiding a ticket? Or, if you will, is it LESS immoral to speed (or commit any other crime, major or minor) as long as you don't take any steps to avoid being caught?The only possible argument I can think of to support increased moral turpitude in these cases is if you presume that being smarter about breaking the law implies a greater degree of premeditation or deliberate intent, and thus is worse in the same way that going out and buying a baseball bat with intent to kill with it is worse than just grabbing a bat that's handy and killing with it in the heat of the moment. After all, it could be argued that buying a radar detector means that you are planning to commit pre-meditated speeding.

Or of course you could just be a habitual speeder and know it, making the purchase of a radar detector an incidental precaution caused by an existing crime/criminal tendency, somewhat aking to putting on a seatbelt when driving drunk. Which kind of erodes the above argument a little.


What about Giles analogy, though? Does the guy standing watch on the corner have a moral obligation to learn what the information he collects will be used for? If he is asked to observe police activity because a legitimate authority is studying police patterns, then this could be a correct thing to do. The use of police could be a viable area of study by the local university, news media, public watchdog group, etc. If a shady-looking guy asked me to watch for the cops, it seems to me that I have a moral obligation to refuse since I suspect he will use this information to assist in committing a crime. In fact, I may be morally obligated to act by summoning the police or otherwise intervening.

So, are the manufacturers and dealers of radar detectors obligated to learn what their customer's intentions are? I don't see a way to realistically do that, but isn't there some sort of liability here? Maybe I need a radar detector because I want to terrorize the community with my blazing speed. Maybe I want a radar detector as I speed out of town with my ill-gotten booty and I want to avoid any police entanglements. What if the Oklahoma City bomber had had a radar detector? (Wasn't he apprehended in an ordinary traffic stop?)We don't require gun manufacturers to learn the intent of the people they sell their guns to, so it seems a bit much to requre that of the manufacturers of simple electronics. And positing extreme hypotheticals seems a bit specious - if you have to scrape that far to the bottom of the barrel, perhaps there's not much there to start with.

That said, I think that the radar detector manufacturers -like the websites offering "only view these videos if you own the original copy" video- to be on somewhat morally dubious ground, as they are producing a product that is extremely likely to be used to facilitate an illegal activity, if a trivial one. (Even gun manufacturers can posit several likely legitimate uses for their product - car-based radar detector manufacturers, not so much.) While the possession or even use of the thing doesn't really add to the immorality of the act of speeding itself, it seems hard to argue that those making it are assuming it *won't* be used to try and dodge the cops.

FoieGrasIsEvil
04-09-2009, 04:08 PM
I posed this question to get the very discussion we are having. I have formed an opinion on the matter. I have based action (or, in this case, inaction) on that opinion -- I will not purchase a radar detector. If one is in a car I am using, I will not turn it on. I can live with the consequences.

With my daughter having just married and her husband being the person who has brought this radar detector into her life, I am continuing to form my opinion about him. I want my daughter to be involved with a man with good morals. I certainly don't expect a saint (and he certainly isn't one), but these things illustrate the depth of his character. Given the discussion in this thread, I have softened my reaction to the radar detector.

Thank you all. This discussion has, for me, served its purpose.

Hopefully you aren't basing your opinion on your new son-in-law's morality based on a radar detector!

I think you may be reading too much into this. Sure, there are plenty of people whom speed voraciously and dangerously, endangering us all out there on the roadways, and for them a radar detector is a simple tool for enabling that reckless behavior and ensuring they get away with it. That kind of speeding is the criminal kind.

Being on an empty interstate at 5:00 am on my way to work going 75 in a 65 zone is what I would have a radar detector for (I don't own one), or to defeat known and/or ridiculous speed traps that have zero to do with mine or your safety and everything to do with revenue generation for the police department, when they surely have better things to do than nail hapless motorists for going 5mph over a speed limit.

Shoot, in my early morning commute here in the Cincinnati area, I'd be better served safety-wise with a deer detector, if there was such a thing. These things are everywhere, and lethal to me and my car at highway speeds.

Tom Tildrum
04-09-2009, 04:19 PM
So, if a person offered you $100 to stand on a street corner, and send him a message on a cell phone or on a two-way radio if you saw a police officer approaching, you would not see any moral issues in such a proposition? He hasn't told you of any illegal activity that he is about to engage in, but he just wants to know about the presence of law enforcement.

That was a warm-hearted Reader's Digest anecdote one time. Heading into a curve on a portion of a road where speeding was rampant, a driver saw a little boy on the side of the road holding up a sign that said "COP AROUND CURVE." The driver slowed to the speed limit, and sure enough, he passed a cop waiting around the curve with a radar gun. A little farther still, the road curved back again, and past this curve, there was a second little boy standing on the side of the road, holding a bucket and a sign that said "TIPS WELCOME."

Musicat
04-09-2009, 04:19 PM
One example of a moral use of the information provided by radar detectors: If I am driving along, and I all of a sudden get 3-4 K or Ka radar signals at once, I know that there is something up ahead that probably merited the use of 3-4 cop cars, likely a bad accident. I naturally slow down.If cops are tending to an accident cleanup, they aren't going to be turning on their radar detectors, and even if they did, they would be too busy to watch them.

Radar units don't broadcast from all cop cars all the time like a beacon. Is that the way you think it works?

Magiver
04-09-2009, 04:29 PM
Many municipalities use speeding tickets as a revenue stream and have as such, lowered the speed limits. The city I grew up in changed ALL the major limits the day it incorporated. 45 went to 35 and 60 went to 50. Officers will sit at the bottom of a hill and collect money.

So to answer the question, it's a gray area. It gives you a heads up to check the posted speed to avoid traps but it's not a license to drive wrecklessly. The roads should be posted in relation to what a road can be safely driven at.

Beyond getting a ticket a driver is subject to higher insurance rates. If this is because of revenue ticketing then it's a double hit.

BlinkingDuck
04-09-2009, 04:35 PM
Many municipalities use speeding tickets as a revenue stream and have as such, lowered the speed limits. The city I grew up in changed ALL the major limits the day it incorporated. 45 went to 35 and 60 went to 50. Officers will sit at the bottom of a hill and collect money.

So to answer the question, it's a gray area. It gives you a heads up to check the posted speed to avoid traps but it's not a license to drive wrecklessly . The roads should be posted in relation to what a road can be safely driven at.

Beyond getting a ticket a driver is subject to higher insurance rates. If this is because of revenue ticketing then it's a double hit.

But...isn't it good to drive wrecklessly? :)

begbert2
04-09-2009, 04:40 PM
But...isn't it good to drive wrecklessly? :)It's good to drive wrecklessly but not recklessly, even if you manage to drive wrecklessly while still driving recklessly.

I want to toot a tune at two to two, too.

Rand Rover
04-09-2009, 04:40 PM
I posed this question to get the very discussion we are having. I have formed an opinion on the matter. I have based action (or, in this case, inaction) on that opinion -- I will not purchase a radar detector. If one is in a car I am using, I will not turn it on. I can live with the consequences.

With my daughter having just married and her husband being the person who has brought this radar detector into her life, I am continuing to form my opinion about him. I want my daughter to be involved with a man with good morals. I certainly don't expect a saint (and he certainly isn't one), but these things illustrate the depth of his character. Given the discussion in this thread, I have softened my reaction to the radar detector.

Thank you all. This discussion has, for me, served its purpose.

See, this is good. I'm glad you realize that what you were really asking was for other people to share their opinions on those who use radar detectors. IMHO, couching that request in language about whether the activity is "morally justifiable" just adds unnecessary confusion to the issue (because that term really is devoid of content). But at least this thread provides a good illustration that there is no concept of something being "morally justifiable" in the abstract--it's all just people's opinions.

Drum God
04-09-2009, 04:42 PM
Hopefully you aren't basing your opinion on your new son-in-law's morality based on a radar detector!

I think you may be reading too much into this. Sure, there are plenty of people whom speed voraciously and dangerously, endangering us all out there on the roadways, and for them a radar detector is a simple tool for enabling that reckless behavior and ensuring they get away with it. That kind of speeding is the criminal kind.

Being on an empty interstate at 5:00 am on my way to work going 75 in a 65 zone is what I would have a radar detector for (I don't own one), or to defeat known and/or ridiculous speed traps that have zero to do with mine or your safety and everything to do with revenue generation for the police department, when they surely have better things to do than nail hapless motorists for going 5mph over a speed limit.

Shoot, in my early morning commute here in the Cincinnati area, I'd be better served safety-wise with a deer detector, if there was such a thing. These things are everywhere, and lethal to me and my car at highway speeds.

No, I am not basing my assessment of the young man solely on his use/possession of a radar detector. I take the boy as a complete human being and, on the whole, he seems to be an okay guy. This radar detector looms large in my mind because of how it relates to my perception of other issues in their relationship.

I have long been concerned (and I have voiced those concerns to both parties) that the boy does not consistently consider my daughter's needs or well-being. He tends to quench his short-term desires at the expense of her long-term goals. In that light, I question the wisdom of giving my daughter -- his wife -- a radar detector. My daughter is well known for not considering the consequences of her actions. If she considers the radar detector as removing a consequence (i.e. a speeding ticket), she is (IMO) more likely to engage in reckless behavior. Therefore, I would prefer that she not have a radar detector. However, all of that is outside the purview of this conversation. (Not that I am discouraging further discussion -- I just realize that I am delving into aspects of our family dynamics that have nothing to do with radar detectors.)

FoieGrasIsEvil
04-09-2009, 05:15 PM
No, I am not basing my assessment of the young man solely on his use/possession of a radar detector. I take the boy as a complete human being and, on the whole, he seems to be an okay guy. This radar detector looms large in my mind because of how it relates to my perception of other issues in their relationship.

I have long been concerned (and I have voiced those concerns to both parties) that the boy does not consistently consider my daughter's needs or well-being. He tends to quench his short-term desires at the expense of her long-term goals. In that light, I question the wisdom of giving my daughter -- his wife -- a radar detector. My daughter is well known for not considering the consequences of her actions. If she considers the radar detector as removing a consequence (i.e. a speeding ticket), she is (IMO) more likely to engage in reckless behavior. Therefore, I would prefer that she not have a radar detector. However, all of that is outside the purview of this conversation. (Not that I am discouraging further discussion -- I just realize that I am delving into aspects of our family dynamics that have nothing to do with radar detectors.)

It sounds like the radar detector is almost metaphoric for some other underlying issues re: their relationship.

JThunder
04-09-2009, 05:16 PM
So to answer the question, it's a gray area. It gives you a heads up to check the posted speed to avoid traps but it's not a license to drive wrecklessly.Personally, I prefer to drive wrecklessly.

FoieGrasIsEvil
04-09-2009, 05:29 PM
Personally, I prefer to drive wrecklessly.

Me too, the less wrecks the better.

BrandonR
04-09-2009, 07:47 PM
The better response would be to get the speed limit changed rather than surreptitiously breaking the law.

I doubt many local municipalities are going to be very open to the idea of decreasing their revenue stream.

Magiver
04-09-2009, 07:56 PM
I see I've been ticketed by the grammar police. How reckless of me.

MEBuckner
04-09-2009, 08:33 PM
Yeah. Bull Effin' Honkey. I use one, even though at worst I only speed moderately, because I never know if I will run into Patrolman Bumfutz who (A) is desperate to reach his quota (and don't go telling me about the myth that there ain't no quotas, especially if you get all semantic-al on me about it-call them whatever you want, they still exist), and/or (B) doesn't know how to use his radar/laser gun, such that he gets a speed reading off the SUV behind me, thinks I was the one speeding (because he didn't pay attention when they trained him, or they never trained him properly in the first place, or notices that I am out of state, and the SUV is not), and pulls me over instead.

Yes, most police are honest, fair, & competent, but all it takes is one (or a department) who isn't, and I'm looking at several hundred if not thousand in raised insurance fees. No frickin' thanks.
In scenario B, though, I don't see how the radar detector would help you any. Your detector lets you know that Patrolman Bumfutz is running a radar detector up ahead; you make sure that you're not exceeding the speed limit. Unfortunately for you, Patrolman Bumfutz locks onto that speed demon in the sports car in the next lane over, but thinks he has locked on to you, so he pulls you over and gives you a ticket--what good does the radar detector do you in this case?

John DiFool
04-09-2009, 09:37 PM
It, by allowing me to slow down and make adjustments to my position, allows me to avoid such "guilt by proximity" scenarios. If I didn't have a detector, I would be happily chugging down the highway (in this case at the limit) oblivious to the upcoming danger. With the detector, I get over to the right lane, get 5 below, and then it is very doubtful he will perceive me as the offender. The usual case is when someone is passing a slower car while a faster one (SUV especially) comes up behind. You move over to the let speed demon past, but right before you do is when the LEO locks on to the SUV, but since you were in front and in the passing lane the LEO thinks you are the offender instead. If I knew he was there in the first place I can avoid that kind of situation and just stay tucked behind the slow guy instead while Senor Gonzo zips ahead and gets nailed.

This thread is a good example of how "blanket" moralistic statements often gang angley when you have to deal with the real world and the kind of complexities and ambiguities you won't find in your little code of laws.

Bearflag70
04-09-2009, 10:18 PM
The basic speed law in California is a "reasonable" speed. Radar detectors allow me to prevent a dispute with the state over what is a reasonable speed. So, by reducing the likelihood of a legal dispute in the courts, I am conserving judicial resources.

Deeg
04-09-2009, 10:56 PM
I doubt many local municipalities are going to be very open to the idea of decreasing their revenue stream.
Regardless, it's still the better way to go. Otherwise it's like people who "protest" high taxes by cheating on them.

Cheesesteak
04-10-2009, 08:05 AM
After all, it could be argued that buying a radar detector means that you are planning to commit pre-meditated speeding.
True, but plenty of folks commit pre-meditated speeding every single day without a radar detector. I don't think their poor planning makes them more moral than criminals who prepare more effectively.

scabpicker
04-10-2009, 08:09 AM
If cops are tending to an accident cleanup, they aren't going to be turning on their radar detectors, and even if they did, they would be too busy to watch them.

Radar units don't broadcast from all cop cars all the time like a beacon. Is that the way you think it works?

That is the way it works very often. You don't think all radar guns have exactly the same features, do you? I own a radar detector, do you? I also live less than an 1/8th mile from a police substation in a city of about 3/4 million. I see a LOT of radar, even when the cop is not in the friggin car Radar guns are left on all of the time, in fact, more often than not, they are on in my experience. I could use the thing as a Whataburger detector. I'd imagine most of them have multiple modes where they gun could be left on, or they could be instantly turned on by a momentary switch. There is at least one model (http://www.stalkerradar.com/law_dual.shtml) that will tell the officer the speed of multiple vehicles in front of them while moving, these are understandably usually left on.

I was speaking from experience. It was not a theoretical usage of the device.

Man With a Cat
04-10-2009, 10:07 AM
So, if a person offered you $100 to stand on a street corner, and send him a message on a cell phone or on a two-way radio if you saw a police officer approaching, you would not see any moral issues in such a proposition? He hasn't told you of any illegal activity that he is about to engage in, but he just wants to know about the presence of law enforcement.

I was away all afternoon, so this is my first chance to respond to this.

No. That's making apples into oranges. What I said was that being aware of my own behavior being watched is my own choice to make. (Bolding mine)

The question is not about the morality of the manufacturer (or in your instance the lookout on the corner), but about my own ethical position wanting to know if I'm being watched. IANAL but it seems to me that there's a pretty wide gap which is logically spanned by whether or not a reasonable person would consider whether or not that person on the corner had any basis to think he was aiding a criminal enterprise. Even if you take the argument that radar detector manufacturers and users are using them to circumvent the law (again - not really a clear assumption to me, or having read this far - to some others), it's a speeding ticket not a drug deal.

Tom Tildrum
04-10-2009, 12:18 PM
This thread is a good example of how "blanket" moralistic statements often gang angley when you have to deal with the real world and the kind of complexities and ambiguities you won't find in your little code of laws.

"often gang angley"? :confused:

Musicat
04-10-2009, 12:47 PM
"often gang angley"? :confused:It helps if you are Scotch and a fan of Robbie Burns. It means "often go astray", as in "The best laid schemes of mice and men gang aft agley." (http://idioms.thefreedictionary.com/best-laid+plans+of+mice+and+men+oft+go+astray)

DrCube
04-10-2009, 12:47 PM
"often gang angley"? :confused:

"Gang aft agley", perhaps? Like the field mouse poem?