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Radar Detectors do more than offer protection from speeding infractions, they can warn you when the speed limit has changed, if you are speeding and other driving hazards along your route. by combining GPS information, Bluetooth connectivity and smartphone integration, these units have the ability to offer speed-related information based on your immediate GPS location. 

Detector Types 

Dash/Window Mounted: The unit is mounted to either the dashboard or windshield via a suction cup. Some models are powered via a cable that plugs into the vehicle’s cigarette lighter, or battery-powered cordless units are available, which provide a much cleaner look and make it a breeze to transfer the detector to another vehicle. 

Pros: 

  • Cost Less than an Integrated Radar Detector 
  • Can be easily removed for use in another vehicle or to prevent theft.

Cons: 

  • Visible from outside of the vehicle if not removed 
  • Some higher end vehicles have specially coated windshields which prevent the unit from detecting radar signals through the windshield.  
  • Not a clean look when using a corded unit

Custom Installed:

These type of detectors are permanently installed into the vehicle, typically with a sensor mounted in the grill and a control unit mounted inside the cabin of the vehicle. Some models include a rear sensor that can be mounted to the rear end of the vehicle offering 360 degree protection to detect signals from a dash-mounted radar. 

 

Pros: 

  • Clean installation 
  • Not visible from the outside of the vehicle 
  • More sensitivity, provides earlier warning on weaker signals 

Cons: 

  • More expensive than Dash/Window Mounted detectors 

Law Enforcement Speed Monitoring Devices 

Radar System 

Current units used in North America are regulated by the FCC and are required by law to operate on select bandwidths. Therefore current radar detectors are designed to target these specific frequencies: 

  • K-Band: The most commonly used radar frequency, operates form 24.05 - 24.25 GHz with a range accuracy of around a ¼ of mile. Depending on the terrain these frequencies can be detected from ¼ to 2 miles away. 
  • Ka-Band: Used with Photo Radar (Photo Cop) systems, operates at 34.3 GHz.  
  • Ka-Band Wide Band: Expanded Ka-Band to use a range of 34.2 - 35.2 GHz. This band was undetectable by detectors that were designed to sense X, K and Photo Radar. Manufacturers created Super Wide Band that scans all of the Ka Band frequencies. 
  • Ku-Band: Operates at 13.45 GHz and is the newest band used by law enforcement for speed detection.  
  • X-Band: The original frequency band used by law enforcement for speed detection. Operating at 10.5 - 10.55 GHz, it has an effective range of ½ mile depending on conditions but can be detected from 2 to 4 miles away. The X-band signals are also commonly found in garage door openers and microwave towers there is a possibility of false alerts. Detector manufacturers have created filters and techniques to help limit the amount of false triggers.    

Laser and Lidar Systems (Instant-On) 

In addition to Radar, some law enforcement agencies use laser guns to monitor vehicle speed. These highly accurate devices can measure a vehicle’s speed from 6000 feet away. When an officer is using an Instant-On device, the device only transmits when the trigger is pulled, therefore the unit is only transmitting a signal for a very short time making it difficult for a detector to pick up. The speed information is not necessarily accurate so the officer then has to verify the speed of the vehicle in conventional mode which can take several seconds. More sensitive detectors are capable of picking up the initial Instant-On signal and alert the driver to slow down. 

Radar/Laser Detector Regulations

There are some states where the use of radar detection is regulated, and even more states prohibit the mounting of radar detectors to the windshield of a vehicle. In addition many states have strict regulations regarding use of radar detection in commercial vehicles. It is advised that interested customers check with local laws before using radar detection.  

Other Things To Consider 

Range 

Range is a key factor in how well a Radar Detector works. The longer the range, the better. Range is another way to measure the unit’s sensitivity. There are numerous factors that can affect the device’s range such as hills, trees, bends in the road, etc. When using a radar detector with long rage sensitivity, the driver will receive an alert, far sooner than a device with shorter range no matter the driving conditions. When the detector is in use in an urban environment, the range/sensitivity will most likely need to be adjusted due to the increased amount of non-law enforcement radar signals that may trigger the detector such as automatic door sensors.  

False Alerts 

There are a number of things that can trigger a detector that are not radar or laser units used by law enforcement. Roadside traffic monitors, electric warning signs, automatic door sensors, emergency vehicles and In-Vehicle technologies such as blind spot detection and autonomous emergency braking can cause a detector to false alert. Quality units have the ability to filter out these sources, but by decreasing a detector’s sensitivity you can run the risk of filtering out an actual radar gun.  

Options

Highway Mode: The highest level of sensitivity, meant to be used when traveling in non urban environment where there are less signals to trigger false alerts.

 

City Mode: Reduces the sensitivity level to prevent false alerts from radar-like signals produced by automatic door sensors, electric warning signs etc. To be used when driving in urban areas. 

 

360 Degree Protection: These units have front and rear sensors that will alert the driver if it has detected radar in the area. Directional indicators on the unit notify the user if the signal is coming from the front or the rear of the vehicle. 

 

Voice Alerts: An audible voice notifies you if a radar signal has been detected, allowing you to keep your eyes on the road and not have to glance at the detector’s display. Some units offer Voice Alerts in both Spanish and English.

Laser Shifters: Detect the beam from a law enforcements laser gun, interpret the signal and transmits unseen light back to the gun at the correct pulse-repetition rate. When the laser gun receives the bogus signal, it is unable to determine the rate of speed so no speed is displayed. Since laser technology is constantly changing it is recommended that you purchase a unit that is updateable so that your device is always current with the new technology. Laser Shifters are available on select windshield mounted units and most custom installed models.

 

Smartphone Connectivity: Allows the detector to connect to Android and iOS devices through a proprietary app, allowing the two devices to work in tandem enabling the user to mark specific speed enforcement locations for future use or to share with other users. The driver will also receive alerts based on user-sourced data that will notify the driver of speed cameras, red light cameras, speed trap and potential hazards.

 

Auto-Muting: When a detector senses a signal, it will notify the user with a single tone followed by clicking. This is a nice feature to have when traveling through an area that is generating multiple radar signals so that the user is not bombarded by a constant beeping.

 

Dim/Dark/Night Mode: Dims the lights of the detector so that it does not cause a distraction while driving in darker conditions.

Additional GPS Equipped Detector Features 

Automatic Sensitivity Adjustment: Adjusts the sensitivity based on vehicle speed so the user does not have to toggle between City and Highway Mode. 

 

Red Light/Speed Traps: Using the vehicle’s GPS location the unit will alert the user when they are approaching a known Red Light Camera or Speed Trap. Some units offer the ability to download a database of red light camera and speed enforcement locations.

 

Speed Limit/Overspeed: Based on GPS information the unit will sound an alert when the vehicle is traveling faster than the posted speed limit or when the speed limit has changed.   

 

A driver’s natural response when seeing an officer with a radar gun is to immediately slow down; a radar/laser detector gives you a warning before this happens and helps prevent a sudden decrease in speed. Sudden decreases in speed are not only dangerous to the driver but to the vehicles behind them.  Features such as overspeed reminders alert the driver that they are exceeding the speed limit, or let them know that the speed limit has changed, which can be extremely helpful when driving in an unknown area. By giving the driver a glimpse of what’s to come, they can now drive with confidence and anticipate any hazards on the road ahead. 

 

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