|Are radar detectors legal? If so, are they effective?
Tired of living in fear of being pulled over? Radar detectors can be effective in providing advance warning of speed traps, but there are a few considerations to keep in mind before buying one.
First, be aware that radar detectors are illegal in some states. Check with the DMV to determine if the local law will allow their usage.
Secondly, know that radar detectors are easy to lose, because thieves love expensive electronic equipment. You’re more prone to a break-in if there’s even a hint that your car is detector-equipped. That means you should hide both the detector and its power cord when you park, and that can seem like a hassle after a while.
Next, you should know that not all radar is the same. X-band was the first frequency band allocated for police radar detectors. (It’s now old technology, but the X-band gun is still in use because it can “see” around curves or over hills, as well as straight ahead.) X-band detectors soon followed. Score for a while: Motorists: 1. Cops: 0. The industry then came up with a better grabber called K-band, and a new generation of detectors appeared to sniff it out.
That was years ago. Most of today’s detectors can spot X-, K- and Ka-bands, as well as laser guns, so your ability to defend yourself would seem to be better than ever. Unfortunately, none of these bands are effective against “Instant-On” radar, where the radar gun zaps your car from within 300 yards. The name says it all, because you’re clocked almost instantly.
Also, one of the today’s more popular soak-the-speeder models is the “Smile! You’re On Candid Camera” system, which combines a radar gun with an automated camera. The picture shows the front of your car, license plate, date, time, location, and even your face. The radar raiders won’t even bother to fire up their roof lights; instead, they'll simply mail your ticket.
So while radar detectors can be effective against certain types of radar, they’re not going to single-handedly save your license. That part is ultimately up to you.