3 Common Myths About Radar Detectors

Radar readings by police officers are often in error. They are subject to a variety of electronic malfunctions and external interference. In fact, some experts estimate that as many as 20 percent of all radar readings are incorrect.

In light of this reality, there is a strong case for citizens to be able to monitor the use of radar, so they don’t become victims of false readings.  Radar detectors offer motorists that protection, but most drivers choose not the purchase them.  This is due in large part to these three big myths about radar detectors:

1) Most States Ban Radar Detectors.
This is not true. In fact, Virginia and Washington, D.C. are the only places in the United States that ban the use of radar detectors in private vehicles. There have been literally hundreds of attempts to ban these devices in other states, but only one other state, Connecticut, ever passed such legislation. Connecticut’s ban was later repealed.

Police officers in Michigan and Kentucky attempted to use existing state statutes to prohibit the use of detectors, but the courts consistently defended the right of people to own detectors.

2) Radar Detectors Cause Speeding.
There is no evidence to suggest that radar detectors encourage speeding or make motorists drive faster than they would otherwise. In fact, there is evidence to the contrary. In the 1980s, research conducted in Virginia, Maryland, Kentucky, New York, Ohio, New Mexico, and Texas showed that when unmanned radar was beamed across sections of interstates, a significant reduction in speed was observed.

This occurred because detector owners slowed when their detectors picked up the beam. This research also demonstrated that motorists presumed to have detectors (because they reduced their speed when encountering the radar beam) were represented in all speed categories.

3)  Radar Detector Owners are Dangerous Drivers.
People who own radar detectors are no more dangerous than other drivers. Detector owners are involved in more accidents on average, but they also drive significantly farther than most people without radar detectors.

When distance driven is taken into account, motorists without radar detectors actually have a higher accident rate per vehicle miles traveled.

This point was first demonstrated in the Yankelovich Clancy Shulman Study in 1987. Their findings were reinforced by the results of a MORI (Market & Opinion Research International) Radar Detector Survey conducted in 2001 on behalf of the Drivers’ Technology Association in Great Britain.

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