Facts About Radar Detectors and Speeding Tickets

At some point in your driving career, you will exceed the speed limit and most of us will get a ticket at least once in our lives. That doesn't make you a bad person, but there are ways you can help prevent that. One is to be more diligent about your speed and the posted limits. The other way is to employ a device such as a radar detector that helps to alert you when you might be in trouble.

We're doing a test this month of the Escort 360 radar detector but honestly, I was pretty overwhelmed when I first plugged it in so it makes sense the split the review into two parts so that we can talk about the how and why of radar detectors and then look at the specific device and how that radar detector helps it's owners avoid tickets.

When I first mentioned to my friends that I was going to do this review, I got feedback asking if it was legal. The question of legality is a pretty common misconception apparently. However, the answer is very simple. Yes! Car Radar Detectors and Laser Detectors are perfectly legal except in Washington D.C. and Virginia. Unfortunately for our Canadian friends, radar detectors are banned in most provinces so if you travel north of the border make sure to disconnect your gear.

Police Today Use More than Just Radar

While it's referred to generally as a "Radar Detector", the truth is today's law enforcement can enforce speed limits with hand-held and mounted radar and laser guns as well as automated photo radar devices, red light cameras, and even air patrols.

Neighborhood "Speed Signs" May Not Be Detected By Radar Detectors

They also are typically not designed to issue citations and since they are nothing more than a notification they don't have the same maintenance standards as a typical radar gun, so they can fall out of calibration from the frequencies monitored by detectors. Similarly, the speed shown may not be accurate either.

speeding ticket

1/3 Of All Speed Enforcement Citations are Erroneous

That's right - just because smokey cited you for 85 in a 70 zone doesn't necessarily make that true. It isn't that they are falsifying results but simply that their machines can fair or be read incorrectly. 

Speed Enforcement Is a Revenue Driving Practice

In the United States alone, there are more than 41 million drivers that receive tickets each year. With the average ticket costing more than $150, that's 6 BILLION dollars each year that is collected by law enforcement.

Radar Works Rain or Shine

Many people think that just because there's bad weather that you won't get caught by radar guns. Truthfully, inclement weather makes it even more important to watch your speed since road conditions are not ideal. However, the reason you see fewer cops doing speed-traps during the rain or snow is that they don't want to be out in the elements any more than you do.

The Laser is Not Actually a Laser and It's Not "Always On"

Instead, it emits infrared light and behaves more like a flashlight than a laser. Unlike radar that is always on, while active an officer will aim and then fire the LIDAR device. This makes it more challenging to detect and while a radar detector like the Escort Max 360 will detect if if you are tagged, the speed data may already be received by the officer.

Officers are Not Able To Hide During a "Speed Trap"

Legally law enforcement offers are allowed to hide behind obstructions but they must have line-of-sight to the car to lock-on the beam to measure your speed.

The Cops Can't Tell if It Was "My Car" If I'm in a Pack

While traditional radar guns have a fairly wide (sometimes as wide as 250') spread, the latest LIDAR (laser) detectors have a beam width as narrow as 3' at 1,000' and some may be smaller. This means that while older technology may have some ambiguity the more modern devices that are incredibly commonly being used are extremely precise and can detect speeders at a fairly long range.

Radar Detectors Jam Radar Guns So They Can't Nail Me for Speeding

False - while there are devices that market themselves as radar jammers, the typical radar detector isn't designed to jam a signal. In fact, radar jammers are illegal in every state and it is an FCC violation as well. However, Escort does have devices that can detect and block laser or LIDAR detectors.

Radar detectors are designed to detect radar and laser signals that indicate that a police officer has his system active and may be looking for speeders. In the case of the Escort Max 360, the radar detector can even determine the direction that those signals are coming from. However, it won't necessarily prevent you from being cited. If the officer has pinged your car and you are going above the speed limit then it's game over.

escort max in action

Fact: The Only Way To Avoid Speeding Tickets Is to Slow Down ...

Sorry guys, I'd love to tell you that the Escort 360 is going to be the device that will allow you to push that Charger Hellcat into triple digits without getting caught. It's just not going to happen. Radar Detectors and Laser Detectors are great devices, but they aren't perfect. Only by obeying speed limits can you avoid getting a ticket.