Hooniverse Asks- Do You Use a Radar Detector?

Radar Love

Let me start out by saying that Hooniverse in no way advocates exceeding the posted speed limit on any public road, nor ever offers a hearty hells-yeah when someone puts the pedal to the metal outside of a closed course. Okay, now that that’s out of the way, do you use a radar detector as insurance against the speeding tax?

Radar is an acronym for RAdio Detection And Ranging and was initially developed in the years leading up to WWII. It’s first use was to detect objects over great distances, spotting incoming aircraft long before they could be seen by even the googliest of binoculars. It was years later – sometime in the nineteen fifties – that it was found that it could also be bounced off a car on the road and, through the use of analysis of its decreasing or increasing duration, that car’s speed could be determined, and it realized a new function as an addendum to the long arm of the law.

The seventies saw a boom in counter measures offered for sale. Radar detectors seemed, for a while at least, to level the playing field. Today, with instant-on and frickin’ lasers, the effectiveness of the windshield-mounter detectors seems to have been marginalized. In some states their use remains illegal, requiring the judicious use of a tissue box on the dash to hide the contraband multi-band. Regardless of that, some drivers still like the extra security a detector affords. Are you among those radar detector users? 

Image source: Wikimedia

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76 responses to “Hooniverse Asks- Do You Use a Radar Detector?”

  1. muthalovin Avatar

    Absolutely. There was a time in my life, about a stretch of 6 or so months where I got a ticket about every month. Travelilng back home from college, on a long, long straight road, with a limit of 60. So, it was after the last one that I decided that as soon as I had the funds, I would get a good radar 'tector.
    I bought an X50 5 years ago, and have been ticket free. It was a damn good investment.
    <img src="http://www.p1speed.com/cms/products/Escort_8500_2.jpg"&gt;

  2. smalleyxb122 Avatar

    "…analysis of its decreasing or increasing duration…" sounds more akin to how a laser detector works. Radar determines speed more directly by the frequency change due to the Doppler effect.
    I've never used a radar detector. I only speed by about 5 mph over, unless traffic is faster, and a radar detector would prove to be more of an annoyance than anything. I don't even bother to slow down when I see a cop in the median. He's not coming after me for 5 over.

    1. JamesJamerson Avatar

      Frequency is (inversely) proportional to pulse duration… so your both saying the same thing, just in different ways!

    2. jeepjeff Avatar

      I'm glad I'm not the only one who does this. Do you find yourself impugning the manhood of the drivers around you as they genuflect with their front bumpers at the mere sight of a smokey?

      1. skitter Avatar

        No, just the emptiness of their minds and lives.

    1. buzzboy7 Avatar

      "I do not use A radar detector"

  3. JayP2112 Avatar

    I have an RD9XL in the toolbox- not used it in 10-12 years. The last few times I've been nicked, I wasn't paying attention. I'm not usually the fastest thing around anyway.
    I do turn the Wase in every time I'm on the road. I just checked and at 8:19am, there were over 1600 Wasers in the area. Pretty good chance the cops will get pointed out.

    1. quattrovalvole Avatar

      I love Waze! Radar detectors are illegal here in Ontario, so the closest thing I can get my hands on is Waze. I like how it can display everything I ever need to know: cops, speed cams, constructions, accidents, etc.

  4. lincoln Avatar

    Yes, I do. Always. Its an Escort 8500, picked it up for 190 bucks. It's far from perfect, but combined with the user submitted speed trap updates on Waze GPS, I know of about 80% of speed traps in time to slow down. I don't speed like I used to, but when it comes to avoiding tickets, information is power!

    1. $kaycog Avatar

      You're much younger than I thought.

      1. TheOtherMacLeod Avatar

        But his command of language and keyboards is amazing!

      2. tony kaye Avatar
        tony kaye

        I know you!

        1. $kaycog Avatar

          Do I know you?

          1. tony kaye Avatar
            tony kaye

            Oh I work for Gawker. Recognized the username. That's all

          2. $kaycog Avatar

            Gotcha! Nice to see you!

  5. P161911 Avatar

    I used one 15-20 years ago, I haven't since then. Just try not to go more than 10 over the limit unless I can see WAY ahead. I think most of the cops around here use laser, the last time I checked laser detectors just tell you that you are about to get a ticket.
    Most of the time I found it was better to just drive a stealth car. I remember seeing an article in an old Car & Driver comparing the detection range of various vehicles. A semi-truck was something like 1/2 mile, a C3 Corvette was around 200 yards. I didn't get too many tickets in my 1977 Corvette. The way I heard it was the first solid thing the radar could detect was the radiator, that was angled back at about 30 degrees from vertical, so the radar beam bounce up instead of back. so you were good unless you popped the headlights on and up.
    I have managed to get at least one speeding ticket in every vehicle I have driven on a regular basis with one exception, a bright red 1994 Corvette coupe. I probably drove that car faster than any of the others too. So much for the red sports car myth.

    1. skitter Avatar

      I've been saved more than once by the radar 'shadow' of a semi-truck, which let me finish a pass at a much lower speed than I started it.

    2. FuzzyPlushroom Avatar

      I'm feeling a lot better about no longer owning a Volvo.

      1. wunno sev Avatar
        wunno sev

        funny, i just went from a red sports car to a volvo wagon with a snail
        whereas i used to almost never breach 75, i now find myself accidentally hitting 80 pretty much every time i get on a highway.
        never gotten a ticket in my life, but it's only a matter of time now. maybe i should invest in a radar detector.

  6. LTDScott Avatar

    Yep, sure do, but only for highway trips.
    Back several years ago I borrowed my friend's Passport detector for a San Diego to Las Vegas trip. I took the back way through the desert (via Route 66 and then up Highway 95 into Boulder City), and as I was going through a particularly straight and boring stretch the detector went nuts. I couldn't see a cop anywhere, but I slowed down anyway. Sure enough about a full mile up the road was an NHP Camaro going the opposite way with his radar gun on. I was amazed at how far away the detector picked him up. Then the same thing happened again about 20 miles down the road.
    That made me a believer, and I bought a Bel RX65 soon thereafter. Thankfully, the CHP still uses constant-on Ka band radar a lot, so it is still very useful and has saved me countless times. If they ever go to laser only (I believe they have some laser, but I've only seen the detector pick it up maybe twice), my fun is over.

    1. Felis_Concolor Avatar

      About 20 years ago a price/revenue comparison was made, and the old Ka-band equipment came out ahead of laser units by a factor of 5; it's going to be a long while before those revenue guns get upgraded.

      1. LTDScott Avatar

        Apparently LEOs in other parts of the country are using laser more and more, but I'm guessing the CHP is too broke to upgrade everything.

  7. calzonegolem Avatar

    I use one daily. It's saved my its cost multiple times. Usually if I'm speeding it is because I'm not paying attention. The beeping wakes me up.

  8. Peter Tanshanomi Avatar
    Peter Tanshanomi

    I still have a radar detector in a box in the garage, somewhere. Haven't actually used it since 1993-94. I lost confidence in them about the time laser detectors showed up; now I just don't speed unless I know the road is clear. I believe I've gotten either two or three speeding tickets in the last twenty years.

  9. MindHacker Avatar

    It depends what I'm driving. My old white pickup doesn't attract enough attention (or, to be honest, go fast enough) to need it. My arrest-me-red sportscar-wannabe tiburon has a passport 9500ci – which installs up in the front grill with just a subtle display in the cabin. It's saved me several times, especially in Virginia.
    And let me tell you, it makes you feel like James Bond when you slow down for an alert, come around a corner, and see a speed trap set up and ready.

    1. MindHacker Avatar

      As far as instant-on and Laser: Instant on is supposed to be used as an estimate, with a two-second pulse averaged to find the actual speed, which should give you some time to react – not that it's always done like that.
      Laser can be jammed by shining flickering IR LEDs back at the laser gun – and since this doesn't generate radio waves that would upset the FCC, it's not illegal. I'll probably pick up a blinder system to compliment my passport when I have some more pocket money. Not because I need it, more because of that James Bond thing I described above.

      1. Alff Avatar

        Ironically, I'm more prone to getting tickets in my wife's minivan than in the other cars.

  10. frankthecat Avatar

    If I drove something other than my pedestrian minivan, I probably would use the hand-me-down radar detector I keep in the center console. The car's so invisible, people regularly try to MERGE INTO ME BECAUSE THEY DON'T REALIZE I'M THERE.
    Once I got rear-ended at 2-3mph because the other driver 'didn't realize [I] was there.' Not sure how you can miss a 5'6" tall, very wide big blue thing right in front of you.

  11. Irishzombieman☆ Avatar

    Last ticket: $350 for fines and traffic school
    Decent radar detector: ~$200.
    I really ought to get one, since it'll pay for itself the first time it saves me.

  12. faberferrum Avatar

    Nope, as I pass through town I can check if the cop's car is in front of his house, and haven't seen a cruiser on patrol in 2-3 years. What I REALLY want is a thermal imaging system to pick up those wretched deer, the threat of them is what keeps speeds down.

  13. Dean Bigglesworth Avatar
    Dean Bigglesworth

    I would, but not only are they illegal to use but also to import, sell, install, have in possession, distribute, service or repair. If you have one on your car or trailer you fill get a fine and the police will confiscate the device.
    Anyway having one around here would not be that useful as i very rarely see actual police with radar on the roads, and i know where all the cameras are locally.

  14. IronBallsMcG Avatar

    I planning on one for the bike, but I need to get this weekend's deer strike repaired first…
    Well, maybe more lights should come first.

    1. Irishzombieman☆ Avatar

      I really hope you're okay, but you can't go and say something like that without pics. And explanation.

      1. IronBallsMcG Avatar

        First off, thank you, I am fine and appreciate the sentiment.
        On Saturday morning I took off on a SaddleSore 1000 run. St. Louis to Washington, PA to Casey, IL. My wife's out of town so I didn't sleep well and got a bit of a later start than intended. I hit my turnaround point and was coming back west slower than I planned, but I maintained speed limit plus 10%, especially in enforcement heavy Ohio.
        My overall average was still around 51-52 mph even with construction and a couple extra breaks. Not stellar, but enough wiggle room that I could possibly take a 4 hour nap and still finish on time.
        Just east of Columbus, OH in I-70 at about 1:30am I made a glancing hit to a deer. I'm still a bit confused to what happened. There was a flash of dear in my auxiliary light and then a low but hard impact. I kept the bike up, got to the shoulder, and did a cursory check of things. It ran, I could accelerate, stop, and turn, but I was losing coolant at a pretty decent rate.
        I eased to the next exit, where there was pretty much only a gas station from what I can recall. I checked the GPS and saw that I was only a couple of miles from Pickerington and a variety of services. Again, I eased down the interstate, pulled into a hotel and got a room. I caught a couple hours of sleep and then started making phone calls. I started my insurance claim, got my bike towed to the dealership, and arranged for a rental car. After a couple more hours sleep I drove the rental back home to the STL.
        Could have been a lot worse.
        <img src="https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/-PHk7tl0Fq2E/UWGNuOtVbRI/AAAAAAAACU0/YIHxEXHX8q8/s844/IMG_20130407_111541_028.jpg"width=500&gt;
        PS Dodge Avengers are not good rentals for big/tall guys. (Mandatory Non-Two Wheeled Tuesday Content)

        1. IronBallsMcG Avatar

          And BTW, after the bike was on the tow truck I discovered the deer hair jammed between the tire and the front rim. I didn't know I hit that far forward.

        2. Irishzombieman☆ Avatar

          Yeek. Glad you didn't hit it square.
          I've never hit anything with my bike bigger than a squirrel, though I caught a bird in the shoulder a couple of weeks back that nearly knocked me off. Watching videos of guys hitting deer–and hearing a first-hand story–sorta give me the willies.

          1. IronBallsMcG Avatar

            Good fortune was definitely with me. That the blow was more glancing saved my bacon.
            I'm spending more than a little time thinking about what went right and what went wrong. BTW, I was ATGATT including my 2 piece Roadcrafter (Hi-Viz Lime on top)

          2. BЯдΖǐL-ЯЄРΘЯΤЄЯ Avatar

            I did had also a dove hitting some years ago, even with good protective clothing, I can tell you that it hurts at 160 kph

  15. buzzboy7 Avatar

    I just don't speed. Difficult I know, but cheaper on tickets, cheaper on radar detectors, cheaper on fuel. All around a good choice.

  16. dukeisduke Avatar

    I used one for a while (when I had my '76 Vega). After getting a ticket for 73 in a 55 near DFW Airport, I bought a Cobra Trapshooter, that covered the X and Ka bands. I used it for about six years in the Vega, but when I switched to the '95 F-150, I stopped using it. Now, I just try to stay in a reasonable range, so I'm not a tempting target.

  17. Maymar Avatar

    Sadly, radar detectors are illegal in Ontario. On the other hand, I know where the bulk of the speed traps are around work – even if they're obnoxiously hidden, they're consistent enough I just slow down in those handful of areas.

    1. OA5599 Avatar

      Did you have any idea it would be that expensive when you walked into the courtoom? A good traffic ticket defense lawyer around here is $50-150 per offense, and that's for somebody with a better than 80% winning percentage.

      1. Jeff Glucker Avatar
        Jeff Glucker

        not one clue

  18. Devin Avatar

    No. The majority of my driving is in the city on streets that are literally lined with cops – the police station is smack in the middle of my daily commute. So it would just be going off constantly anyway.

  19. John Avatar

    I must be the only hoon who doesn't speed.

    1. jeepjeff Avatar

      There's at least four of us on this thread. Ok, I don't speed by California standards. (I tend to go around 5 over indicated, which just accounts for the inaccuracy of my speedometer. I checked it against a GPS a while back.)

    2. IronBallsMcG Avatar

      Depends what I'm driving/riding and where I am.
      I almost never speed on anything that's not a highway of some sort.
      My wife and I made a day trip to Chicago a couple of weeks ago. Day time, good weather, well maintained newer car on rural Illinois interstate. 65 mph has no relationship to safety at that moment.
      OTOH in the 10 years I've been in my home I've probably never reached the speed limit on my street or any of the adjoining streets. Not because it's my neighborhood, but because of traffic, pedestrians, etc.

    3. $kaycog Avatar

      I don't speed anymore. I hit a deer in the mountains once. If I hadn't been speeding, it could have been avoided.

    4. FuzzyPlushroom Avatar

      New Hampshire speed limits are invariably posted 5-10+ MPH low, so it's impossible not to. On the highway, I go with the flow of traffic.

    5. MVEilenstein Avatar

      I usually don't. If I'm in a rush, I'll do 65 or 70 on the highway. I never speed on city streets, though.

  20. Preludacris Avatar

    I don't get many chances to speed, but if I get lucky with an empty, curvy road in front of me, I just run a quick cost-benefit analysis in my head. So far, I've had one warning and no tickets in seven years of driving.
    Only once have I exceeded 40 km/h over the limit, which besides being pretty fast, is the point where your vehicle can be impounded in British Columbia. That's a $370 ticket, vehicle impounded for seven days (at a cost of $210), and three points on your license.
    Know your limit, speed within it.

  21. mdharrell Avatar

    Yes, of course. I've got a Fuzzbuster Elite, like this one:
    <img src="http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v230/jimbonzzz/elite.jpg&quot; width="400">
    mounted in the upper right corner of the windshield of my race car:
    <img src="http://www.murileemartin.com/UG/LWA12/LWA12-UG-107.jpg&quot; width="400">
    Never gotten a ticket with it yet, on or off the track. Never yet broken 70 mph, either….

    1. Rover 1 Avatar
      Rover 1

      So….. what's that on the roof?

      1. mdharrell Avatar

        It's a survival sled designed for air drops in remote areas, bolted upside-down to a roof rack. It saw several years of service in Antarctica before making its way back to the US. It's the same year and nearly the same color (before fading) as the car, so I put it there for additional storage when I started using the car as a daily driver about a decade ago. We left it on for the race because the whole team agrees it looks cool. It's also handy for hauling gas cans to and from the track.

        1. Rover 1 Avatar
          Rover 1

          So…Stylish Streamlined SAAB Safety Survival Sled and Speed inhibiting device.In other words, Race Equipment. : )

  22. Sjalabais Avatar

    No, because if my eventual speeding gets detected, I probably deserve it. The two times I got caught I was half asleep…
    In Norway, there is hardly any police left. It is very rare that they use their time to control traffic. On the other hand, 10 km/h too fast is priced at 4000 NOK (divide by 5.5 for USD).

  23. topdeadcentre Avatar

    I don't have a detector now, and haven't had one since about 1998. I received some stupid-me 30 or 35mph in-town-zone speeding tickets over twenty years ago, but never received one at highway speeds.
    I try to use a lot of situational awareness (drive the same highway for 30 years and you get an idea of where and when the cops like to set up shop) and letting another car or two go faster than me. High-performance Volvo wagons are also less "visible" than, say, awesome bright-orange Challenger SRT8's with racing stripes.
    I think a major factor is that I do almost all of my driving in New England, and it seems we're a little less revenue-crazy around here than some other parts of the country.

  24. joshuman Avatar

    I purchased my first radar detector at age 17 and the day after getting my first ticket from a cop in a cornfield. I used that thing for a decade. It saved my ass so many times. The next one was used during a 45-mile one-way commute for several years. Again, it saved my ass many times before being stolen at the cost of a passenger window. My most recent radar detector was a casualty of switching cars with my wife after a road trip. I had put the detector on my wind shield wiper thinking I would put it back inside the car in the morning. Well, she drove that car instead. It was started raining part way into her commute and the Passport few off into the underbrush at 50 MPH. I'm surprised it stayed on as long as it did.
    I haven't bought one in the few years since that happened. My regular commute doesn't allow for much speeding. The on and off ramps present the most fun anyway. I only really want it on road trips but don't really want to lay out the cash. Waze is good enough.

  25. wisc47 Avatar

    No, but I don't need one anyway, I'll be damned if I can get the Spider past 70mph.

  26. Felis_Concolor Avatar

    Most of my rides fall into the Invisible category, so I refrain from using a detector in those. I'm still awaiting my noPhoto license plate frames to foil the revenue cameras.

    1. dead_elvis Avatar

      NoPhoto plate frames? Tell me more… Seattle's installing more red-light cameras, and while right on red is legal unless otherwise posted, I had to fight a ticket when I took a (legal) right on red. Would have been cheaper to pay it than fight it considering the time away from work, but it's the principle of the thing.

      1. Felis_Concolor Avatar

        It's a non-obscuring license plate frame (no polarized glass shenanigans) equipped with a photosensor and sophisticated circuitry to detect the unique wavefront of flash photography, to prevent falsing on merely powerful light sources. Capable of firing for multiple flash events during an encounter with revenue cameras, it's designed to critically overexpose the license plate surface, giving the reviewer a washed out rectangle when the image is scanned.
        Further details at the official website. The prototypes have successfully finished testing and all that remains is for the tooling to be finalized and frames to be constructed.
        While I'm not one to run a light (last through the light's from Denver!) I find it repugnant that most of the revenue generated from these systems goes to Australia, and I sure didn't vote to subsidise that country's economy via traffic citations issued in the USA.

        1. dead_elvis Avatar

          Interesting. I'd be very interested in a motorcycle-specific application.
          My understanding is that the majority of the redlight/speed-enforcement/revenue-generation camera outfits are located in Arizona, not Australia; regardless, they're a sector of business I'd like to see fail.

  27. pj134 Avatar

    Well, I live in Pennsylvania, so no, I don't. See, in Pennsylvania, only state troopers are allowed to use any form of LIDAR/RADAR. The rest of the time you have to be caught by VASCAR. If you zoom in on the below map, those two lines across are VASCAR. Pretty noticeable. So in between those two lines the police officer has to be able to see you cross the first, flip a switch, cross the second, flip a switch. They must maintain line of sight through the whole process. Makes it so that they are pretty easy to spot. In addition, officers are not allowed to "intentionally conceal" themselves from the public.
    I don't really drive highway enough to utilize a detector. Also, I love my state.

  28. Rust-MyEnemy Avatar

    My Dad bought a radar detector while we were vacationing in the US in '95. He bought a Whistler, of all things, from WalMart, of all places, for very, very few dollars.
    For a while in the UK it gave us the drop on stray electrons spilling from our fixed GATSO cameras, but pretty soon they must have changed the shielding or reduced the power or something, because the Whistler started to confirm the presence of a camera as you passed it, not before.
    It does, however, detect traffic lights and automatic supermarket doors from miles away.

  29. apfeifer3 Avatar

    Yup, a Beltronics V955, got it on sale. Not a high dollar radar detector, but surprisingly good. I got it after a dumb end of construction zone speed limit change area speed trap ticket. I don't speed much, but I like to know if a cop is ahead so I can watch for speed traps.

  30. tiberiusẅisë Avatar

    My radar detector is a sloppy steering box in my CJ-5. It completely eliminates the desire to go fast.

  31. FuzzyPlushroom Avatar

    After a red Mustang convertible passed me at 100+ MPH in the middle lane before I could merge back into it in my maybe-100-HP 3100+-pound Volvo wagon, and I got the ticket?
    You're fucking right I do.
    It's hit-or-miss in New England, and fortunately, the magistrate accepted 'uh, the car won't do that in its present condition', laughed, and wrote me up for 80. Which, I'll admit, I was doing.
    So yeah, just in case, there it sits. I generally don't even speed that much, but being hit for what some other guy was doing really burned my ass.

  32. Piston Slap Yo Mama Avatar
    Piston Slap Yo Mama

    The occasional "beep … beep" punctuated my Orlando to Louisiana road trip with my lovely girl pal Kelly. During the very brief stretch of I10 in Alabama she complained about the noise so I muted my Passport. Five minutes later I was parked on the median receiving a speeding ticket. Deeply irritated, I continued our journey with me vowing to never, ever mute the detector again. Later that day on a downhill slope on rural Hwy 167 in the middle of nowhere the Passport registered a maximum alert. I could plainly see the cop at least a quarter mile away but I was only going 65mph in a 65 zone. Confidently I drive past him only to see his blue lights come on amid a spray of grass as he initiated full-on chase-the-perp-down mode. I wondered where he was going but when he failed to go around me my mood sank. Turns out I'd just blown through a 55mph zone at a blistering 63mph … and got another ticket.
    Two in one day, my record. And me, a broke college student.
    On the way home we stopped in Pat O'Brien's in New Orleans and I gloomily bought a couple rounds of adult hurricane beverages. Being a strong believer in tipping even when broke, I casually dropped a $5 bill on the counter and we left.
    A couple hundred miles later we stopped for gas and I looked in my wallet for that $50 bill I knew was in there … and … nada. The $5 bill I thought I'd tipped in New Orleans was still there though.
    There's no moral here. The trip sucked.

  33. hedgedigger Avatar

    One year, my parents gave me and my brother radar detectors for Christmas. Those were expensive times for us prior to that gift. That radar detector was good to me for several years. Now I don't need one…I have a wife and kids that are always detecting my speed.

  34. Rover 1 Avatar
    Rover 1

    Valentine or nothing. Though now that the police here (NZ) have mainly swiched to lasers I think a Blinder would be a good investment. Laser jammers are legal here as they are just infra red transmitters-like a fire or a flashlight , so transmitting on a 907nm frequency can't be illegal.

  35. BobWellington Avatar

    I generally don't go more than 10 over just to conserve fuel. I have allegedly hit 106 MPH in my Explorer, which is when the speed limiter kicks in. And I haven't been pulled over for anything in my 6 years of driving.

  36. sporty88au Avatar

    I'd like to, but they're illegal over here.

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