Ever wonder why petrol heads and gear nuts often take time to consider which radar detector would best fit their needs and blend in with their dashboard? Ever wondered what does a radar detector does exactly and what else is there to know about this futuristic device?
This electronic device that often sits at the center of the dashboard usually gets flak from conservatives who feel that it only enables individuals who are only out to break the law and cause trouble for everybody else. Their concerns are not really off track, but not everybody who wants or is using a radar detector has a criminal mind to speak off; some of them just want to get to their destinations faster.
What Does a Radar Detector Do?
In a nutshell, radar detectors filter out radio waves until only the signal profiles of the different frequencies that law enforcement agencies use with their radar guns are left. Once radar detectors receive signals from the said frequencies, they notify the driver that they are nearing or have passed an area that is being monitored for speeding and that the driver should slow down to avoid being apprehended.
Speed detectors work by sending out radar or laser beams through the air, and whatever is reflected towards the source is measured for its relative distance and the speed to which it approaches the point of origin. This effectively measures the running speed of a target object, and this is an accurate way of catching speedsters and people who are up to no good, with their cars, of course.
The signals that radar guns send out usually travel in a straight line and stops once it hits an object going in a different direction. This means that moving vehicles directly behind another moving vehicle has a lower chance of being detected. This also means that radar guns are ineffective if placed near corners or when there is a hill in their path.
Types of Radar Guns
Commonly, a police radar gun is the handheld radar speed gun that you would usually see in movies and police serials. It’s shaped like a gun, hence the name, and consists of a radio transmitter and a receiver. It applies the basic principle used for radar systems–sending out a radio signal in a narrow beam and then parsing the returned signals via the receiver through a computer that calculates the distance and estimated speed of an oncoming object.
Radar guns can come in the following models:
- Moving radar guns
These radar guns are used while the person holding it or the vehicle it is installed in is motion. This model contains a more complex algorithm as it can compute the relative distance and speed of the target while it is in motion.
- Stationary radar guns
These radar guns are often used while the operator is parked somewhere, maybe on a bridge spanning across a freeway or behind a huge ad that hides them from aspiring speedsters.
- Directional radar guns
These radar guns are used to measure the relative speed and distance of vehicles moving towards and past a fixed point. This kind of radar gun can be modified to block out signals coming from the opposite direction to address false alarms.
Types of Radar Detectors
On the other side of the road lies radar detectors, the chief nemesis of radar guns and the best device in a gear head’s arsenal. These devices can be best classified into three types:
- Corded radar detectors
These radar detectors are typically plugged into the cigarette lighter port of your vehicle and then mounted on the windshield using suction cups. Corded radar detectors are easy to install and can detect all frequencies, and do not need batteries.
- Cordless radar detectors
These radar detectors are just like corded detectors sans the cord. They are also mounted on the windshield using suctions cups, although cordless detectors have a shorter range and battery life. It is not that effective when detecting POP frequency signals.
- Remote Mounted radar detectors
These radar detectors often include signal jammers in their features and are usually mounted by professionals as they can be hidden from plain sight. Most remote-mounted detectors are undetectable, almost stealth-like even.
Each of these three radar detector types may have it’s set of features that vary from model to model, maker to maker.
Misconceptions About Radar Detectors
Aside from knowing what does a radar detector do, understanding the different misconceptions about radar detectors can also be worth your while, especially in the following:
- Radar detectors contribute to the rising incidence of speeding. Going over the speed limit is a conscious effort to go over the limit. No technology can force you to push that pedal without your consent, and adding a radar detector to your dashboard smorgasbord wouldn’t make any difference when it comes to flooring it or slowing things down.
- Radar detectors are illegal. In some cities, radar detectors are illegal, but it is slowly being embraced to address speeding in a reverse-psychology kind-of-way.
- Owning a radar detector makes you dangerous. Similar to its contributing to speeding, owning a radar detector does not make you a criminal per se. It’s what you do with it that defines that fine line between criminally aggressive speeding and speeding for the sake of saving time.
- Radar detectors equal radar jammers. Not all radar detectors would have radar jammers that aim to interfere with all frequencies, which is illegal. Radar detectors only detect and notify, although newer models tend to have jammers hidden as a feature.
- Radar detectors can save you from speeding tickets. Well, it can, and it cannot. It really depends on the scenario as radar guns also evolve together with radar detectors. There are also several factors that affect how effective a radar gun would work.
Radar detectors are a good way for drivers to remind themselves of how fast they are going, so they can pay close attention to the way they drive. Most speeding accidents result from carelessness, and the speed at which the vehicle has been going affects how much damage would result from the impact.