Are radar/laser detectors worth using?

Let’s say you have a radar/laser detactor in your car, and you drive past a speed trap. At the time it goes off, how much time passes before the cop knows how fast you’re going?

(whether it’s enough time to slow down to the speed limit would of course depend on how fast you were going and what you were driving)

In California radar detectors are legal and I have used them extensively in the past. They work. They work because presumably they detect the police gun’s signal before there is enough of a bounce back to trigger their detector. Now if you rounding a turn that is blocked a building and the guy is right there pointing the gun at you you’re dead… but on the open road, especially in the country, it can really help. I have avoided numerous tickets in the past. BTW, you can usually fight a speeding ticket based on radar in court since these things aren’t all that reliable and have to be calibrated often (which the police don’t necessarily do). My brother’s a judge…

They are of some help, IF you understand their limitations. The first thing you need to do is understand police radar and laser units themselves (buy a used police radar unit on E-bay and play with it). Then you’ll understand the strengths and weaknesses of a detector. (maybe if more of us did this we wouldn’t be subject to dumb ass theories about cd’s hanging from the rear view mirror jamming radar:rolleyes: )

Next, read up on the tests car magazines do on detectors. Always buy the absolute best there is. At one time that was the old Escort, but today it’s the Valentine One. Do not be a cheapskate and buy any other unit. You will be sorry.

Also, buy a Uniden Beartracker. It’s a scanner that detects the mobile repeater in state patrol vehicles. This is a big help when smokey is using a stop watch or pacing (radar detectors are useless for that).

Then, call your state legislators and insist on faster limits on your local highways. Get lots of people to sign petitions for it also.

And, most importantly, do what I did and make a big donation to a sheriffs election campaign, then when he wins get him to deputize you. Flashing a badge/professional courtesy is the best way to get out of a ticket:D:

I have a radar detector that for the most part, sits in the glove compartment and only comes out on long trips. Even then, I have found it ONLY useful in situations where there is lots of traffic ahead. That is, a car in front of you gets shot, and your detector picks up the scatter and goes off.

As you might guess, the cops are pretty wise to this, and since they can only nail one or two cars at a time anyway, they just use instant on radar, shoot you, and then pull you over.

Imagine my surprise driving through Arizona years ago with my brand new Whistler radar detector. Yep, it detected I had just been shot by the cop sitting in the median of the freeway in Dome, Arizona (a town that makes ALL their income from tickets). And guess what? Having it go from 1 to 9 instantly didn’t prevent the cop from writing me up for 110 in a 65 zone. Since then, I have found a better solution…I drive slower.

I’m convinced the real trick to never getting tickets is:

  1. never go more than 10 miles above the posted limit and
  2. become friends with a cop and get one of those stupid badge shaped stickers they give out that shows you support the local sheriffs, police force, etc. - these seem to get people off since the cop inevitably sees these in your read window as they approach your car from behind.

I haven’t had a ticket since I bought my Valentine One, and I speed all the freakin’ time. The detector is wired in to my ignition, so it turns on when I turn the key. This is Rule One of owning a radar detector: It’s not just for long trips. Drive with it always, learn the locations of dummy signals (automatic door openers and the like) in neighborhoods where you do the most driving, and you’ll be able to distinguish the cops from the noise. For best results, hang your detector up high, next to the rear-view mirror, where it can get a clear view of the road ahead and behind.

But there’s a second component to speeding and getting away with it, and that is “intelligent speeding”. The best way to do it, even without a radar detector, is to find yourself a “rabbit”. No matter how fast you drive, someone’s probably driving faster. Let them get a good distance ahead, but not out of sight, and keep up with 'em. They’ll hit the radar first. If the road is lonely, stick near the speed limit until someone blows past you, let 'em put some distance on, and then pace 'em.

Don’t speed too much going around curves, under bridges, over hills, or anywhere you don’t have good visibility of the road ahead. That’s where cops hide. Speed up again when you’re on the other side and can see far ahead.

If you do get hit by the radar, get your foot off the gas, but don’t touch the brakes. Cops recognize that “front end dive” that the cars of folks with radar detectors make when they get zapped, and they love to ticket 'em.

In closing, the Valentine One radar detector gets my heartfelt endorsement. It’s not cheap, but it is well worth the extra cash. It has soooo many great features, many of which you don’t find on ANY other detectors. It has two antennas, one for the front and one for the back. The CPU can determine, by measuring the signals obtained from each antenna, where the radar is coming from, and indicates front, rear, or side on an arrow display. It even counts the total number of radar signals present (up to 9) and shows you how many it senses on its display. The unit is solidly built and intelligently designed; the power cord can be replaced with any standard telephone cord. Its range is incredible; I’ve picked up cops over 2 miles away in the city, even farther away on the highway where there’s no interference. It is truly a thing of beauty.

I went the cheap route and got the least expensive model available at the store, for $100. I’ve avoided at least one ticket, so I think it’s paid for itself already.

The downside to buying the cheap model is that it goes off all the time. Every day it’d go off three times between home and work - for about a mile, it’d be up to 9 for no apparent reason. Whenever I have a passenger, I always have to say “it always does that here” and hit mute.

But back to avoiding tickets. I was coming home the other day, doing about 77 in a 70, when a blue Taurus crept past me in the next lane. Moments later, my detector went off (in a place where it usually doesn’t), so I slowed down a bit. The Taurus didn’t. A few more moments later, a cop appears from behind, goes right past me, and pulls over the Taurus. If I hadn’t slowed down, it probably would have been me.

There are a number of things that might set off a detector other than police radar guns or lasers. Traffic lights that have sensors often set them off, for example. The model I have has two mode – highway and city – for different levels of sensitivity, along with separate detection for safety signals (ambulance, railroad, etc.).

As pkbites said, you have to understand their limitations. If a police officer is sitting in a hidden location doing spot checking (turning on the radar gun for specific cars), the detector is only going to let you know you’ve been caught.

Here is a site that has some info on laws about detectors (and scanners). Virginia is the only state where it is completely illegal to use them.

I don’t know if this is pertinent or not, but it’s close enough.

If your interested in where a trap might be, check out

It’s kinda interesting.