Why should you have a detector? Simple. Today's speed limits are unreasonably low. It is no coindicence that the sale of citizen's band radios exploded in 1975 - the 55 mph National Maximum Speed Limit was enacted only 1 year before and drivers needed a way to find out where the speed traps were. Later, the technology advanced enough to allow actual radar frequency receivers (radar detectors). In the ensuing 15-20 years, we've seen a cat-and-mouse game between cops and motorists. Cops are hiding behind bushes, in an alley between two buildings, or behind a bridge abutment with the sole purpose of taking radar potshots at unsuspecting motorists, all while ignoring more important duties such as catching criminals. Motorists are defending themselves against this revenue enhancement by buying top-dollar detectors, not signalling lane changes to avoid being noticed (a blinking light attracts attention), using "drone" vehicles (vehicles driving at the same speed but ¼ or so mile ahead) - let them get the ticket or set off the cops' radar, etc. Is it any wonder there's an "us versus them" attitude with most highway patrol officers today?
The insurance companies are a large part of this problem. They say that lower speed limits save lives. That's patently false. The reason they support lower speed limits is they know that people will ignore them, so when they get a speeding ticket the insurance company can give the driver a considerable increase in his insurance. If the purpose of insurance is to cover unusual risk, then nearly every speeding ticket surcharge they issue is pure profit since the act of exceeding an unreasonably low speed limit is hardly unusual. Some insurance companies take those profits and buy radar/laser guns to give away free to police! The police, always cash-strapped, gladly accept these so that they can go out and "take back the highways". The insurance companies will issue enough speeding ticket surcharges to cover the cost of the units in less than one year. (A radar unit goes for about $1,200, lasers, $3,800.) These devices will continue their revenue-enhancing duties for another 3-5 years. Not a bad profit from a legal product. How many other businesses can manipulate their profits in such a manner?
The US government isn't totally free of guilt either. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) occasionally grants states hundreds of thousands of dollars to purchase radar and laser units, VASCAR computers, airplanes, etc., as well as to pay for the officers' overtime salary so they can perform "saturation enforcement" of the speed limit on particular roads. NHTSA gave the Connecticut State Police $750,000 earlier this year to do just that on their 55 mph Interstates. Over the Memorial Day weekend, they wrote more speeding tickets than the previous year, but had a 67% rise in accidents as well. What's wrong with this picture?
Do you still wonder why you should have a radar detector? The $150 or so you'd spend on one is considerably cheaper than insurance surcharges (which can linger for 3 years) and points on your license.
Most of us who have radar detectors don't know how to use them properly and end up getting caught - exactly the opposite of what you wanted, especially since you have a detector.
Some tips on using a detector:
Note to detector makers: Would you please make your detectors with three settings for X-band? Two you already have: normal and "city". Add an OFF switch for those of us who spend most of our time driving near shopping malls or in Connecticut with their X-band traffic monitoring system.
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