In the eventuality that you got caught in a speeding trap or you got a ticket due to exceeding the speed limit, then chances are that the thought of buying a radar detector has crossed your mind. In all fairness, given the skyrocketing costs of the speeding tickets recently and the fact that getting one will have a direct effect on the car insurance premiums, having a radar detector might not be such a bad idea after all.
While many drivers want to have such a handy tool to avoid speeding traps, they never actually buy one because they – erroneously – believe it is illegal. However, it is important to note that a radar detector does not represent a ticket to reckless driving, as its main goal is to help the driver avert hidden traps and associated fines. In regards to the legality of such devices, keep in mind that in the United States gadgets that jam lasers are allowed in most states, whereas radar-jamming units are illicit. Still, the best approach is to verify the laws in your state before buying a radar detector.
Now that we clarified the roles, legality, and uses of the radar detector, it is time to discuss the features drivers should be looking for in an efficient and reliable device. Despite the fact that these gadgets can integrate dozens of options, some are more important than others. In the following radar detector buying guide, we will be presenting the crucial characteristics to look for in a radar detector as well as some things to watch out for when shopping for a device.
Table of Contents
1 – Sensitivity
Sensitivity is the paramount feature of a radar detector and hence, the very first aspect to carefully analyze when looking for a device. The gadgets sensitivity or range, as it is also dubbed, refers to its ability to sniff out the radio waves or lasers emitted by the patrols device. Essentially, the bigger the range, the more time you will have to slow down and make sure you are respecting the speed limits in a certain area. However, sensitivity does not only imply detecting a police device on time but also identifying them in difficult conditions such as when the patrol is around the curve for instance. These are the reasons why it would be wise to verify how a certain model performed on various tests before investing.
2 – POP Mode Detection
More often than not, drivers with a radar detector know that his device should be able to pick up any alert sent by on the frequencies used by the police, namely Ka, K or X. Since everyone is familiar with this practice, police patrols have started using a clever mode to catch modern Flash Gordons on the road. Simply put, they turn the POP mode detection and immediately identify the speed of the cars long before their radar detectors signal the alert. In the light of these facts, a device with POP mode detection would surely help.
3 – An Efficient Filter
Despite its main function, the radar detector will also capture and send alerts about other items in the cars surrounding. Therefore, besides the actual patrol, the gadget can send false positives when it detects security systems, automatic doors or other radar detectors with frequencies similar to the ones utilized by the police. The problem with getting too many alerts is that in time you will get used to them and eventually, ignore them. Consequentially, a third important feature to have is a reliable false alert filter option.
4 – A Good Display
Since you want to pay attention to the road while checking out the alert emitted by the radar detector, a further noteworthy feature to look for is easy to read display. Nowadays, radar detectors are available in three displays, namely LED, icon and text. The first two normally use a combination of lights that the driver interprets afterward, a characteristic that is kind of a nuisance for most people. On the other hand, the text alert is a lot more flexible and simple to read considering that the alert implies displaying the frequency, strength of the signal, band ID and location (city or highway).
5 – The Voice Alert Option
With drivers concentrating on the traffic, it is easy to fail to notice the intermittent light emitted by the radar detector that should draw their attention. Consequentially, a must-have feature of your future radar detector is the voice alert option that gets stronger and faster as the driver approaches the source. The good news is that the vast majority of devices nowadays come with voice alerts in different tones which can be set for various categories of notifications, thus allowing drivers to keep their eyes on the road.
6 – Installation Method
The most convenient type of radar detectors are the dashboard installed devices. While they can be mounted very quickly and transferred from one car to another, the setback is that they run on batteries. If you forget to check the batteries and they are dead, obviously the radar detector can’t do much for you.
If you prefer to know that you can always rely on your device, then you should consider the more expensive electric radar detectors. Keep in mind that their installation implies hiring a professional to attach the device to the vehicle’s electric system. Furthermore, you should employ the same expert to uninstall the device when necessary, as to prevent damage to your automobile.
A Final Thought
Two of the elements that drivers put a lot of emphasis on when it comes to selecting a radar detector consist of the safety warnings and the digital compass. Without denying the fact that they are both nice to have and could actually prove useful sometimes, do not choose a model over the other based on the fact that it integrates either of the attributes.
In conclusion, when you shop around for a radar detector you should make sure your device includes the five crucial aspects and that you are comfortable with the installation method. The rest are just options that you might never require and hence, should not constitute important criteria able to influence your final decision.