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What is the best radar detector?


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What is the best radar detector?


A radar detector is an electronic gadget used by drivers to get alarmed when their speed is monitored (usually a police man, sheriff, highway patrol). Today radar detectors detect signals across a range of wavelength bands - usually X, K, and Ka bands (and in Europe: Ku).

Since the mid nineties police uses pulsed laser light (LIDAR, commonly referred to as LASER) instead of radio waves. Radar detectors have been upgraded by detecting the infrared light emitted by LIDAR. LIDAR detection is not nearly as reliable as the detection of radar, since the light is much more focused and often aimed below the windshield level, where the detector is usually mounted. The other problem with LIDAR is that your highway patrol officer may have one of those instant-on LIDAR guns. He's completely passive until he sees you are speeding, quickly points his laser gun at you, your detector goes off, at the same time the police officer will have the speed reading (and proof), meanwhile you are hitting the brakes.

In one sentence: since the advent of instant-on Lidar, radar detectors have lost a lot of value.

Since LIDAR is more expensive technology, in some rural areas you may still find the old-fashioned X, K or Ka band technology being used. Under those circumstances, a radar detector will still work fine.

Unfortunately the (automotive!) insurance company GEICO massively supplied laser (LIDAR) guns to police departments for free so those rural areas will disappear soon.

If you are still considering buying a radar detector, in the USA, radar detectors are currently legal in all states except Virginia and Washington D.C.

Here are two web sites that specialize in testing these devices:

Also know that jammers which actively mess up the police's equipment's signal are considered illegal in all states in the USA as far as the author knows. I personally used to drive with a Cobra detector and indeed it saved me maybe 4 or 5 times from a sure ticket but since ~ 2002 in my area, police uses instant on LIDAR or just does an visual estimate of my speed (they are not required to have a machine reading). When I am in familiar territory and I know there won't be any speed traps/ officers, I may speed a bit, otherwise I submit to the speed limit nowadays.

If you're willing to pick it up, you can have my Cobra 6500 for free.

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