Many people who have been booked for speeding or know somebody who has got a ticket will consider buying a radar detector at some point. A radar detector is a electronic device which is installed in a car or a van to help motorists determine if police or law enforcement agencies are monitoring their speed with a radar gun.
Radar guns – which can be hand-held, mounted or attached to a fixed traffic signal – have become the bane of many a motorist’s life, usually because you come across them when it is too late to slow down. Often they will be hidden around the corner of a bend or behind an obstruction like a street lamp. Before you know it there is a flash, a blue flashing light in your mirror, or an ominous brown envelope dropping through
your letter box. You’ve been caught for speeding. The result can be a fine, points on your licence or, in cases of excessive speed, confiscation of your vehicle and even imprisonment.
The aim of a radar detector is to detect the presence of a radar gun allowing a driver to slow down in enough time to avoid getting a speeding ticket. Due to current technological limitations, radar detectors can only detect Doppler-radar based units. They cannot detect piezo sensors, VASCAR (Visual Average Speed Computer and Recorder) technology or ANPR (Automatic Number Plate Recognition).
The legality of radar detectors varies from country to country, and state to state. For example, in Europe, they are legal in the UK, completely banned in France, Spain and Italy, and allowed in Germany – provided the car is not moving! In the US, they are legal in most states, except for Virginia, Washington DC, and all military bases. So, if you are thinking about buying one, make sure they are legal where you live (and you
know how to disable them if you are driving where they are banned because you can get in trouble if local law enforcement even find that one has been fitted to your car).
Before discussing what the best available detectors on the market, it is necessary to echo the words of all
auto-manufacturers, lawmakers, road safety officials, consumer groups and other concerned parties. If you are a driver, you should stick to the speed limits at all time, make sure you are driving with due care and attention at all times, and pay attention to other road users. Don’t use your detector as an excuse to
speed, thinking that you are safe from a ticket because the device will let you know in good time to slow down.
Having got the caveats out of the way, what are the current candidates for best radio detector? After reading the reviews the following three choices emerge.
1. Escort Max 360
The Max 360 offers all round protection (hence its name), easy set-up and an intuitive smartphone app. This radar detector employs four-directional arrows, and has an online database that is updated weekly with the latest list of known red lights and speed cameras. It has a GRS filtering system that “learns” and stops reporting any false signals that have triggered the device previously. Escort claims is signal is the fastest on the market, and the manufacturer will even pay for your first ticket if you are caught speeding while using it. One caveat is the price which some may consider steep, compared to some of the alternatives.
2. Vakentine One V1
Although this devices and display are somewhat old-fashioned, this is one of the best detectors on the market. It has an impressive range, and uses radar antenna and laser detection. Arguably its greatest feature is that it provides directional notification of radar signals; most radar detectors just inform a driver that there are radar signals in the area; the V1 informs the motorist of the exact direction from which a signal is emanating. One minor drawback with the V1 is that it is a touch sensitive – even non-police radars can set-off the device.
3. Beltronics GT-7
The Beltronic is one of the stand-out performers in the budget radar detector market. The GT-7 scores heavily not only in terms of design – it is widely regarded as the best looking detector around – but in terms of technology as well; it uses a powerful digital processor which screens out false signals so the motorist knows that any alert comes from a genuine law enforcement source. The GT-7 comes with three modes of
operation – Highway, Auto and No X – which can be adjusted to the individual driver’s needs. The GT-7, which is made by the same group as the Escort does not, have, however, the same range as some other models.
If you are thinking of buying a radar detector, do make sure they are legal where you live, and that you choose one that meets your needs. And do remember that a radar detector is not a “get out of jail free” card when it comes to observing speed limits.
Radar detectors are available in most electronic retailers and online stores.