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FAQs about Radar Detectors

by Paul Sanders

Family riding in a van with a radar detector

If you've considered installing a radar detector on your vehicle, you may have a few questions about how they work and what the challenges are in using one. The good news is that these car electronics are relatively simple to install and operate. You may need some additional information in order to avoid common mistakes and use your radar detector appropriately. Here are some frequently asked questions about detectors and how they can help you monitor your speed and avoid speeding tickets.

Radar Detector Questions:

  1. How do radar detectors work?
    Police use radar guns to measure the speed of vehicles and detect speeding. A radar detector can sense certain kinds of radar waves commonly used by law enforcement and alert you when your speed is being monitored by radar. The detector will beep or a light on the dash will come on, indicating the presence of radar waves.

  2. Are radar detectors illegal in some places?
    Yes. In North America, radar detectors are illegal on most commercial vehicles. As of 2010, radar detectors were also illegal in Virginia and Washington, DC. In Canada, radar detectors are legal only in the provinces of Alberta, British Columbia and Saskatchewan. Before you install a radar detector, be sure to check changes in local laws governing their installation and use.

  3. What is Spectre?
    Spectre is a brand of radar-detector detector. Radar detectors also radiate waves that can be detected by Spectre and similar technologies, which are used to detect radar detectors in areas where their use is prohibited. If law enforcement determines that you're using a radar detector in a prohibited region, the fines can be pretty large.

  4. How reliable are radar detectors?
    Certain things can set off radar detectors by accident, like microwave emissions. False alerts usually happen in cities, where there are more wave emissions flying around.

  5. Is a radar jammer the same as a detector?
    No. A radar jammer scrambles radar frequencies, which is illegal in the United States and many other countries. Creating unlawful interference on any radio frequencies regulated by the FCC carries heavy penalties, including fines and jail time.

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