Stop Hiding It, Police Don't Care About Your Radar Detector

Police say they don't care about radar detectors 9 photos
Photo: Bogdan Popa/autoevolutio/Cobra
Escort radar detectorEscort radar detectorCobra radar detectorsCobra radar detectorsCobra radar detectorsCobra radar detectorsCobra radar detectorsCobra radar detectors
I know what you think: do they still make radar detectors? They do, and contrary to what many people expect, these devices are still incredibly popular nowadays.
There's a good reason for this unexpected statistic: radar detectors are illegal in some parts of the world, and like everything illegal, they are seen as an effective way for some drivers to detect speed traps and avoid getting a ticket.

Many "modern" drivers rely on Waze to get police radar warnings and let the crowdsourcing power help them slow down ahead of a laser gun. Others stick with the old-fashioned radar detector, which may or may not work, depending on model, location, and police hardware.

Leaving aside all these factors, drivers feel guilty about using a radar detector and typically try to hide it when pulled over by an officer. It's not like they're illegal everywhere. In the United States, radar detectors are legal in all but two states: Virginia and Mississippi (not to be confused with radar jammers, which are illegal in all states). While some drivers specifically try to hide radar detectors in their cars by placing them under the seats or in other hard-to-spot places, others keep them on the dashboard and remove them the moment they are pulled over.

Cobra radar detectors
Photo: Cobra
I recently attended a police conference where officials discussed ways to prevent speed-related crashes. One officer shared an interesting theory: fining speedsters doesn't always work the way we'd expect. He claimed that in 70% of the cases (unfortunately, I couldn't find any statistics to back his claims, as he claimed the number came from police records), someone getting a ticket for going over the limit will likely do it again.

He proposed to "enforce" driving within the limit by making everybody aware that a speed trap is out there. Speedsters would, therefore, reduce speed if they knew a police radar was ahead. This involves pinning a police car on Waze, dedicated road signage for speed checks, and allowing drivers to use their radar detectors. "They aren't that efficient anyway," he said, making other cops in the audience laugh.

I agree.

I've tried maybe over ten radar detectors, and all offered at least three, four, or five false alarms. It feels much easier (and effective, too) to rely on applications like Waze to get warnings for speed traps, especially in populated areas.

We're getting a little distracted, so let's move back to radar detectors.

Cobra radar detectors
Photo: Cobra
The officer said that despite radar detectors being legal, drivers don't want to be seen using them. The reason is as mysterious as possible, but the main takeaway is that officers who pull you over don't care about speed warning hardware. Not even if they're illegal, it seems, though this doesn't apply to all cops on the road.

I recently stumbled upon a discussion thread on Reddit where police officers discussed radar detectors. To my surprise, they shared the same opinion: nobody cares about radar detectors. If you're pulled over for speed, it's obvious they don't work.

Someone in the linked thread (please note that these are Internet users, and it's impossible to confirm they are actual police officers) has a good point. "You had a cheat code and still couldn't win," they say.

Cobra radar detectors
Photo: Cobra
Man, that's SO true.

Radar detectors are supposed to, well, detect radars. If you get pulled over for speeding, it's clear you should have used your money on something else. "Now you pay for a radar detector and a speeding ticket," someone else says, highlighting the irony.

The bottom line: if you really insist on using a radar detector (hopefully, in a region where it's legal), stop hiding it from the cops. They don't mind you using it, albeit, as someone says in the linked thread, they could make the police officer think you're a serial speedster. Eventually, instead of getting a verbal warning, you could get a ticket just because of the radar detector.

Escort radar detector
Photo: Escort
Before I end this article, here's one last bit for people who can't believe radar detectors are still a thing. One of the most advanced models on the market today is the Escort Max 360c MK II. It comes with all kinds of goodies, including a learning engine to store locations where you receive false alerts. The device tracks all these alerts, trying to prevent issuing a notification the next time you drive in the same spot (you can imagine what happens if a speed trap is located exactly in that place).

The device also comes with a mobile companion app with access to connected services. You get extra notifications for speed traps based on information received from other radar detectors installed on cars on the road. It's a Waze-inspired engine that works automatically based on information collected from the network of similar radar detectors.

The device costs $700 (yes, $700), and you'll have to pay extra for monthly access to connected services. That's how much it costs if you want to be a speedster.
If you liked the article, please follow us:  Google News icon Google News Youtube Instagram
About the author: Bogdan Popa
Bogdan Popa profile photo

Bogdan keeps an eye on how technology is taking over the car world. His long-term goals are buying an 18-wheeler because he needs more space for his kid’s toys, and convincing Google and Apple that Android Auto and CarPlay deserve at least as much attention as their phones.
Full profile


Would you like AUTOEVOLUTION to send you notifications?

You will only receive our top stories