During the tech boom of the eighties and nineties, many drivers had a single technological apparatus that they simply refused to leave home without. (No, we’re not talking about an American Express card.) We’re referring to the radar detector, which were found in scores of vehicles in past years. Since they continue to be among the most misunderstood devices around, let’s take a closer look at them, shall we? Maybe we’ll end up with some answers.
Radar Detector Facts
Are they legal? Well, it kinda depends on where you are. In America, they are legal in every state except for the Commonwealth of Virginia, as well as the District of Columbia. They are also illegal on military bases and on commercial vehicles of over 10,000 pounds. They are also not allowed on to be attached to the windshield in two states, California and Minnesota, and for a bonus fun fact, police officers in VA and DC actually have detectors in their cars that are able to pick up radar detectors.
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Do they work? If you’re wondering why they aren’t as common as they used to be, it isn’t because the technology has become obsolete. Quite the opposite, actually. What has happened is that cars so frequently use radar-powered crash-mitigation features — blind spot alerts, cross-traffic alerts, etc. — that use the same K-band radar that cops used to use. Now that the K-band radar is so common, police generally use low-power digital radar instead, which have much longer ranges and are harder to detect. Obviously, to detect these long-range radars, the radar detectors that are necessary are much more expensive than the ones we used to use.
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Like, how expensive? Quite. The best radar detectors come with stealth capabilities, laser jammers and high-grade filtering, running to cost up into the thousands of dollars. There are also less expensive models that can be purchased for under $500, but they also aren’t quite as strong as the others.
Is there a better option than a radar detector? The last few years have seen drivers become much more social in their search for traffic information, and especially in areas with higher populations. An app called Waze lets users upload information regarding speed craps, traffic buildups, accidents and much more. The best thing about social sites like these is, of course, that they’re free.
We hope that these answers help you to understand why radar detectors have decreased in prominence in recent years. And, if you’d like to know how you can make radar work for you — namely, by using crash-mitigation features — come visit us at Harbin Automotive!