In Virginia and DC, the possession and use of Radar Detectors are illegal. I had to give up mine when I moved here back in November ’06. However, I never had the chance to explain my beliefs on why these devices should be legal.
Myth: Radar detectors reduce speed of drivers.
False. Speeding is usually a conscientious behavior many people make when either late or fulfilling their own need to go faster. A Radar Detector doesn’t grant someone that right. However, I’ll mention that radar detectors do probably aide on one’s decision to speed.
Myth: Radar detectors prevent police from giving you a ticket.
False. Radar detectors only will alert the driver after the officer is acquiring your vehicle’s speed. I would find it very difficult for one to reason with a judge citing that “my detector didn’t go off, so I should be dismissed.”
Myth: Radar detectors danger everyone else when someone speeds.
False. I can think of many additional factors that danger everyone else when on the road. In fact, I think radar detectors keep the roads safer because the driver is generally more attuned to the risks that affect their driving. Many detectors now available offer the ability to detect ambulance strobe patterns, thereby alerting the driver there is an emergency vehicle approaching. This can be especially valuable when the driver has their windows up or their radio’s volume up.
Myth: Radar detectors promote illegal activity.
False. The drivers that choose to speed make an active choice to violate the law. On all the packaging of radar detectors, they always state that you must obey all local traffic laws.
Radar detectors receive the signal that is already being blasted at it. It’s a radio frequency (in the 27-38GHz band), so it is nothing special. It is not a police vehicle detector, contrary to popular belief. The effectiveness is greatly reduced when LIDAR (Infrared, “laser”) speed measurement devices are used on a speeder due to their 600-1000nm wide beam.
If a driver wishes to spend their money on these devices, they should be able to. I would suggest a sticker to be placed on packages advising of the local traffic enforcement laws, so ignorance isn’t an excuse.
My conspiracy theory is that the manufacturers of Radar Detectors (Cobra, Bel, Whistler, Escort, etc.) probably share their secret sauce with law enforcement speed measurement companies (LTI, Kustom Signals, etc.) so the police can keep up with the technology.
What do you think? Should Radar Detectors be legal or not? Let me know in the comments.