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If you're planning to take a cross-country road trip this year, you might be considering purchasing a radar detector to help "guard" you from police traps. Buyers beware; there are legal issues that surround the use of radar detectors in all 50 states and these laws could cost you more than you bargained for!

  • Many consumers believe that radar detectors guard them from police traps, but they are banned in some states and in all commercial vehicles over 10,000 pounds.
  • Expect to pay a fine and possibly higher auto insurance rates if you are caught with a radar detector in areas where they are illegal.
  • Radar and laser jammers emit signals to interfere with police radar, but experts say they don’t necessarily work. Radar jammers are illegal in all 50 states.
  • Using stealth-coating paint to act as a shield against police laser guns is another deterrent, but the best way to avoid higher insurance rates is, of course, not to speed.

States where radar detectors are banned

According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, radar detectors are banned in all vehicles in the state of Virginia and the District of Columbia, Washington D.C. Radar Detectors are also banned in big trucks in the states of New York and Illinois. Plus, under federal law, the use of radar or laser speed detectors is illegal in all commercial vehicles over 10,000 pounds. However, radar detectors are allowed in all noncommercial vehicles in all other states.

Ignoring radar detector laws

Think law enforcement will never find out that you have an illegal radar detector? Think again! In states and areas where radar detectors are illegal, law enforcement have devices such as the VG-2 Detector and the Spectres I, II, III, that scan for small frequencies emitting from your detector`s tuning oscillator. And if you are caught with an illegal detector, be prepared to pay a huge fine, have your detector confiscated & possibly increase your auto insurance rates.

Radar & Laser Jammers

Generally much more expensive than the radar detector, Radar & Laser Jammers are designed to emit signals to interfere with police radar or laser gun readings. Although these innovative devices sound ideal, many experts report that they don`t really work and are illegal in many states.

For instance, Laser Jammers are illegal in Nebraska, Minnesota, Utah, California, Oklahoma, Virginia, Colorado and Washington D.C. and Radar Jammers are illegal in all 50 states.

Stealth Coatings

Designed to reduce LIDAR laser speed detectors from tagging your car, Stealth Coating is a laser absorbent paint that can be applied to your headlights and license plates to reduce near infrared laser light reflections. When applied to treated areas, the paint should act as a shield, blacking out any areas that could be potentially be picked up by a police laser gun. To date the stealth coating is legal in all 50 states.

Safe or Unsafe?

The battle continues on surrounding the safety of radar and laser speed detectors. Some feel the detectors help prevent speeding and accidents, while others feel they are just an excuse to speed.

In a survey conducted by Yankelovich Clancy Shulman, detector users had 23 percent fewer accidents per mile traveled than nonowners, and drove almost 60,000 miles farther between accidents.

However, the National Institute for Highways Safety in Virginia believes radar detectors should be banned all together. The Institute feels that radar busters are only bought for the sole purse of avoiding speeding tickets and encourage speeding. "The only reason [to have a radar detector] is to help you break the law, " stated a representative from the National Institute for Highways Safety in Virginia.

In a study conducted by the interstate highway, drivers with radar detectors reduced their speeds by at least five miles per hour or activated their brake lights when exposed to police radar. Before this exposure, vehicles with detectors were traveling significantly faster than other drivers.

Know your limit

No matter what new device comes out to try and beat the system, one thing still remains the same; following the designated speed limits is always the best policy. To find out the speed limit for the state you are traveling to, log on to the National Motorists Association's website. Here you will find the mandated speed limits for both cars and trucks.