Do Radar Detectors Still Work: Factors You Need to Consider

Do Radar Detectors Still Work

There have been lots of arguments about the effectiveness of radar detectors, especially now that traffic technology is progressing. Also, the answer to the question “Do radar detectors still work?” depends on a lot of factors. Thus, to fully understand this and to avoid getting a speeding ticket, we need to update our knowledge of the latest technology used by both the state’s police department and by radar detector manufacturers.

What Are the Laws and Interferences of the Land?

Where you live or travel to the most is a big factor when judging whether a radar detector can do its job effectively and whether it is legal to use one at all. As of this writing, radar detectors are legal in most states in the USA, except for Washington DC and Virginia. Officers there can confiscate your detector, and you’ll be paying more-or-less a $400 fine for possessing such.

Some states also restrict the use of radar detectors for commercial vehicles. There are also some states, like Minnesota, where you can get a ticket for mounting anything to your windshield that obstructs your view, so be very careful where you place a radar detector.

When it comes to interferences, radar detectors simply pick up radio waves from an enforcer’s radar gun and alert the driver if it detects those radio wave signals. If you drive in an area where there are establishments around that uses radar technology, such as garage door openers and burglar alarms, it’s highly likely that you will get a false alarm from your detector.

In this case, your radar detector sure works, but it may be inaccurate. Fortunately, there are now radar detectors in the market that can filter these false signals.

What Are the Devices and Tactics Used by the Cops?

The use of high-tech speed detection equipment such as LIDAR (Light Detection and Ranging) and Instant-On radar (also known as RF-hold or IO radar) is becoming more prevalent. This is why most drivers think that radar detectors don’t work anymore.

LIDAR is similar to radar guns, but instead of radar, it emits a laser beam. Radar has a far-reaching beam, making it difficult to distinguish which specific vehicle the device had read, especially if multiple vehicles enter the stream at the same time.

LIDAR has a narrower beam, so it’s easier for police officers to target a speeding vehicle. One tactic a driver can use is to drive with other vehicles, preferably behind some, to draw the aim of the radar so that you get an early warning from the radar detector. However, this tactic may now work if the police officers use other methods and devices aside from LIDAR, such as pacing and VASCAR (Visual Average Speed Computer and Recorder).

There are also radar units that can be operated in the Instant-on mode, which means that the radar is on, but it is not transmitting a beam so it cannot be detected. The police officer only switches the beam on when the target is within range.

In usually less than a second, the radar has already calculated the speed. Sure, a radar detector can detect the beams as soon as the officer switches his radar’s beams on, but it may be too late for the target to respond and slow down.

What Are the Best Radar Detectors?

Technology is only as good as our understanding of it. Just like any tool, radar detectors are tools with limitations, so it is only wise to invest in a radar detector that matches the current technology of speed detection devices used by police officers in your area.

A quick research on radar detector buying guides will tell you that, in most cases, the amount you spend on a detector is in direct correlation to how well it works. Radar detectors that are worth a few hundred dollars, such as those made by Valentine One, Escort, and Beltronics, will usually be worth their price and may actually save you from the higher costs of speeding tickets and court fees.

It is also important to remember to update your detector so that you’ll have the latest technology offered. Don’t bother getting the cheaper ones, as they may not match the technology used by traffic enforcers.

The pricier detectors also have features such as effective filtering and false signal rejection, rather than mere radar sensitivity. They can distinguish true police radar from junk signals. Further, if you incorporate things like WAZE or Escort Live, you can have pretty good protection.

Take note though that a decent radar detector is not a license to speed but to help drivers get informed of the traffic environment around them. The teamwork of WAZE or Escort Live and a state-of-the-art detector can be your best bet to avoid radar.

Do Radar Detectors Still Work?

In order to make radar detectors work to your advantage, you must have at least a basic knowledge of each of the factors above. Placing faith in technology we don’t entirely understand can lead to a lot more than tickets.

First, you have to be familiar with the place where you’ll be driving. If you’re going to a place you’ve never been before, research beforehand the laws that apply to radar detectors. You should also know if there are nearby establishments that may interfere with your radar detector’s detection. This is also where info-sharing apps can be useful since you can know precisely where you are most likely to get a speed trap or be targeted with radar.

Second, your safest bet would be to get a modern radar detector with high-performing features. They can be a bit expensive, but if you tend to speed, it is absolutely worth it. Do not waste money on cheaper ones as they will, most of the time, fail to do their jobs. Getting the most expensive radar detector does not guarantee you of success in not getting caught for speeding. Of course, you have to learn how they work and what tactics the police use to combat their use.


The answer to the question "Do radar detectors still work?" is that radar detectors still work effectively if you, the driver, equips yourself with knowledge of the area and match your driving abilities with the traffic enforcers’ speed detection methods. Not all drivers have the ability to make a quick and informed judgment of what lies ahead and the patience to stay vigilant on the road. Radar detectors are, on their own, not a panacea to avoiding radar and speeding tickets.

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