Police Radars: Are They Worth it?

Police Radar Detectors
Police Radar Detectors

Police Radar

Radar detectors have become increasingly popular among motorists. After all, the ability to avoid speed traps sounds like an absolute dream. Many people think that buying a police radar detector means fewer speeding tickets…which is potentially the case.

However, police radar detectors: are they worth it? What type of radar detectors are available on the market? Well, if you read on, we will tell you everything you need to know about police radar detectors and even a bit of how police radars work! 

Best Radar Detectors for 2022

To kick things off, we will go through three of the best police radar detectors on the market. If you are wondering, “police radar detectors: are they worth it?” then we are optimistic that if you pick up one of the three on this list, you will end up with something that is more than worth the cash.

Ubiden R3

If you are the type to ask “police radar detectors: are they worth it?” then this is the model that you need. It isn’t cheap, but this is probably one of the best radar detectors on the market. The range is fantastic, and numerous safeguards are built into the Uniden R3 to prevent false positives from creeping through. Use this link to visit Amazon.

When you buy the Uniden R3, you will be pleased to know that it is packed to the brim with traffic lights and speed traps around the US. The GPS will tell you when you are getting close to one. This means that you will know whether you need to tone your speed down, even if there isn’t an actual radar insight.

Voice alerts give you your warnings nice and quickly.

Cobra RAD 480i

This is one of the budget radar detectors on the market. However, that doesn’t necessarily mean that it is terrible. We wouldn’t include it on this list if it were.

The Cobra RAD can detect radar both in front and behind your vehicle. This helps to ensure that you never run foul of speed traps while on your travels.

The cool thing about the Cobra RAD is that it comes with a companion app. This helps to provide a bit of extra support while on the road. The app receives real-time data of potential speed traps from over 3-million drivers. This means that the detection is astonishing! Use this link to visit Amazon.

Radenso XP

If you are asking for “police radar detectors: are they worth it?” and want something a bit more mid-budget, then the Radenso XP could be perfect for you.

It has long-range radar detection. It also has a regularly updated speed camera database that will alert you if you are coming close to one.

GPS is built into the Radenso too. If you consistently get false alerts (a common problem with all radar detectors), you can filter them out. You can do this by location or automatically filter if you are traveling below a certain speed.

The Radenso XP will work right out of the box. Click here to view this product on Amazon.

Radar Detector Alerts
Radar Detector Alerts

How do Police Radar Detectors Work?

When a police radar gun is used to measure speed, it will emit small beams of radio waves. These beams of radio waves hit the vehicle they are detecting and bounce back to the radar gun to measure speed.

A radar detector works by looking for these beams of radio waves. You can often detect them far from where the radar gun is used. This means that the driver of a vehicle will get an advanced warning if they are about to hit a speed trap.

The answer is yes here when it comes to radar detectors. Sometimes it is worth it to know that you will not be detected by a speed trap, which can drastically reduce the number of speed tickets you get.

What is the Difference Between Different Brands of Radar Detectors?

When people ask us, “is a radar detector worth it?” we often say: yes, but it depends on which radar detector you purchase.

Earlier on, we told you a bit about the best radar detectors in 2022. They come from different brands. Now, most radar detectors on the market work pretty similarly. After all, they only really have to do a single job. However, you may still find subtle differences between brands of radar detectors. 

For example, some radar detectors (the more expensive ones) are much more sensitive to radar, which means that they can give you earlier warnings. Others may be able to tell you exactly which direction the radar signal is coming from.

There may also be differences in how the radar detector is mounted onto the vehicle. Some are cordless. Others are corded. Generally speaking, if you want the best radar detector on the market, you want a cordless one that sits on the dashboard. They are far better at picking up radar signals.

Are Radar Detectors Future-Proof?

When most people ask the question about radar detectors they wonder whether their radar detector will be future-proof.

No device is future-proof. However, a radar detector may be a bit more future-proof than others. There has never really been a drastic shift in speed radar technology, for starters. The most significant changes have created radar that can detect speeds quicker, but they cannot produce data that is useable in court and thus can’t be used to issue speeding tickets.

Radar detectors have the benefit of working with slow-moving technology. Even if there are changes in the way in which radar works, it will often take years for it to get to the point where a radar detector won’t be able to detect the tech and, even then, the police radar information from the new tech may not be admissible in court.

We can assure you that if you buy a police radar detector now, it will be working for years and years to come.

Are All the Features Useful?

Most of the features that you find loaded onto a radar detector should be helpful. The only feature that ever really gives issues would be POP mode. While POP mode can be used to detect radar signals, the radar that POP is used to detect can’t actually measure your speed. It is more a precursor to an actual measurement of your traveling speed. 

Due to how POP mode works, there is a chance that it could generate false responses. While there are times where POP could come in useful, it very rarely comes in useful while you are avoiding speeding tickets, and thus it is a rather pointless feature.

There isn’t any other feature that radar detectors come with that may not be useful. At least, none of the staple features. Most radar detectors have the exact features you need to avoid speeding tickets and nothing more.

What are the Features of Radar Detectors?

Radar detectors tend not to have a considerable number of features. After all, they are designed to do a specific job. However, these are the features that you are most likely to encounter on a radar detector:

  • Ability to detect multiple frequency bands from a police radar (we will discuss that in more depth soon)
  • GPS tracking. This way, you know where the alerts are coming from
  • Multi-directional radar detection.
  • Ability to ‘mute’ false positives.
  • Database of speed cameras and red lights

The more expensive the radar detector, the more features it will likely come loaded with.

What is the Cost of a Radar Detector?

Radar detectors are not all that expensive. Depending on the model you purchase, you are looking at between $150 and $400. That is for something decent. There are cheap radar detectors. However, the cheaper models tend to be far less reliable. 

How illegal are Radar Detectors?

Radar detectors are only illegal in Virginia and the District of Columbia. You can use them anywhere else in the United States.

Detect Police Radar
Detect Police Radar

How Do you Choose Which Radar Detector to Buy?

Because a good radar detector is designed to do one job, there isn’t much difference between the brands. However, there are still a few things that you may want to think about when purchasing a radar detector:

  • How much cash do you have to spend? We recommend spending a minimum of $150 on a radar detector.
  • Whether you need a GPS built into the system. This won’t give you directions like a standard GPS but can track speed camera locations, mute false positives, etc.
  • You want to ensure that the radar detector can detect X, K, and Ka frequency bands. These are the frequencies used by all police radars in the US.
  • You need to know that the brand is reliable. You don’t want it to throw out false positives forever, n nor do you want it to fail to alert you if a speed check is nearby. Reviews and recommendations can go a long way here.

What about Police Radar Jammers?

Police radar jammers can ‘interrupt’ the signal coming from a radar gun. They are illegal in all 50 states.

If you had a police radar jammer, then the radar would never pick up on the speed you are traveling at. Although, if you are caught using one (and it is often dead simple to tell that you are using one), you could be looking at hefty fines or prison time, depending on where you live.

What’s the Difference Between a Dash Mount and a Fixed Radar?

With a dash mount radar detector, the radar is traveling. It will be used by police officers on the roads, checking whether anybody around them is speeding. 

A fixed radar will be located in a fixed location. These are often the radars that you see police officers using when measuring the speed of people traveling on the roads. They will look like guns. 

How Quickly Can a Police Officer Check My Speed?

Speed detection using a radar gun should only take a few seconds.

How Does a Radar Detector Work?

A radar detector works by searching for the radio waves emitted by radar speed detectors. 

How do Police Officers Verify Radar Gun Accuracy?

At the start of every speed detecting session, the police officers will need to use a tuning fork. This unique little gadget emits a frequency similar to the frequency a vehicle would produce when traveling at certain speeds.

The police officer will point their radar gun at the tuning fork. They will know that the radar gun is accurate if the reading on the radar gun is the same as the speed at which the tuning fork is supposed to be emitting a frequency.

If the police officer does not calibrate the radar gun before work begins, this can often invalidate speeding tickets. 

What about Police Laser?

A police laser detection, known as LIDAR, is a slightly different way police officers will detect speed. They will send a beam of light to a vehicle and measure the ‘bounce back. It does the same thing as radar, although it does it with light as opposed to sound (or radiowaves)

Police lasers are becoming more common due to their accuracy. 

What are X band, K band, Ka-band?

Police radars can work on numerous frequency bands:

  • X band, which is the least common, works between 8 GHz and 12 GHz
  • K-band works between 18 GHz and 27 GHz
  • Ka-band works between 33.4 GHz and 36.0 GHz

Tell Me the Meaning of these Bands in Radar Detectors?

In practical usage, you don’t need to know the difference between the frequency bands. They just determine the radio wave frequency that the police are operating on. Most modern radar detectors alerts will pick up on all radar gun frequencies.

Nowadays, The X band is very rarely used. It can produce false positives, and it isn’t accurate as other radio waves are floating around that also operate between these frequencies—the same with K-band.

Most modern police radars will use Ka-band. This is the most accurate. If your radar detector detects Ka-band frequencies, you know that the police are nearby.

How Far Away Can a Radar Gun Record Your Speed?

It is going to be dependent on the system that they are using. Most radars will measure the speed of a vehicle between 800-feet and 1,200-feet away.  

How Does a Radar Gun Calculate Your Speed?

When a radar gun is used, it will emit radio waves. These radio waves hit the traveling object, usually a car, and bounce back. When they bounce back, the frequency of the radio waves will have changed, dependent on how fast the vehicle is moving. This will enable the radar system to determine the vehicle’s speed.

Can Radar Track Multiple Vehicles?

Yes. Radar can track multiple vehicles at once. This includes vehicles that may be traveling at different speeds from one another.

How Accurate are Police Radar Guns?

Depending on the radar system being used, most police radar guns are accurate to within 1-2mph.

How do Speed Guns Work?

It depends on the technology being used by the police car or officer. Some speed guns will emit light; others will emit radio waves. The speed gun will be looking for how fast light bounces back to the system or, if they use radio wave technology, how much the radio waves have changed when they return (i.e., the change in frequency)

How do Radar Detectors Help you Avoid Tickets?

Radar detectors help you avoid tickets by giving you advanced warning of any potential speeding traps in the nearby area.

Tell me the Different Radar Gun Modes?

There are four modes that radar guns can be set at:

  • Constant ON means that the radar is constantly emitting signals. It essentially detects all vehicles that travel by.
  • Instant ON means that the radar can be switched on manually by the police officer. These are hard to detect by radar detectors as they are only temporary.
  • A quick trigger is similar to instant ON, but it isn’t entirely as accurate.
  • POP is the fastest radar gun mode at the moment. However, POP is not currently admissible in court. It can detect speeds in a fraction of a second, but not with a great deal of accuracy. 

Tell me About the Police Radar?

Police radar is a device used for detecting speeds at which motorists are traveling on the road. All a police officer needs to do is point the radar gun at a moving object and, within seconds, they will get a readout of the speed that a person is traveling.

Police radars tend to be moveable devices. Most highway cops will have a police RADAR in their vehicle that they can use if they believe somebody is breaking the law. 

In most cases, people will encounter Police radar at special ‘speed check’ locations. These can be moveable too. However, the police tend to place these locations in areas where people can break the speed limit. For example, you may find them close to schools or even on bridges over highways. 

How Can I Avoid Speeding Tickets?

Honestly, the best way to prevent a speeding ticket is not to speed in your vehicle. There is a reason why speeding is against the law. It is dangerous. Sure, speeding tickets do have a small amount of income for the places that issue them. However, the main focus is to ensure that people do not speed while on the roads to save lives.

Of course, you can also try to avoid any speeding traps using targets such as police radar detector or just looking for signs along the side of the road.

How is Police Radar Used

Police Radar is used to detect speeds in several different ways.

You will have your fixed locations where radar systems are set up. You may be notified about these when you approach them. These should be detectable by most radar detectors. 

In other cases, the police will have handheld gadgets that they can use if they believe somebody that traveled past them is moving too fast. These will fire a quick burst of radio waves towards the vehicle. It isn’t accurate, but it will give the police a rough idea of whether it is worth pursuing you. Due to the speed at which these radars are used, it is impossible to detect them. They tend only to be used if a vehicle travels much higher than the speed limit.

The best way to avoid a radar speeding ticket is not speed in the first place. The second option is to purchase a quality RADAR detector that will identify if police radar is being used in the nearby area.

How does Police Radar Work?

When a police radar is used on a vehicle, the radar is essentially shooting an invisible beam of radiowaves. When this beam of radiowaves hits the vehicle, it will bounce back to the radar gun. The radar gun will then look at the frequency of the radio waves that are returned. By looking at this frequency, it will get a solid idea of how fast a vehicle was traveling.

Most RADAR options (except for POP radar) tend to be incredibly accurate in how they read speed. 

Facts About Pop Radar?

POP is a type of radar signal. POP can gain a rapid read of a vehicle’s speed. However, the reading from POP is so quick that it doesn’t produce enough information that a speeding ticket can be issued. It is more of a ‘check.’

POP was designed initially as it is almost undetectable by a radar detector (it isn’t nowadays. Many have POP detectors built in!). However, due to how quickly POP works, it can often give inaccurate speed information. This means that information gained from a POP radar is inadmissible in court. They are mainly used as a deterrent more than anything. 


So, police radar is it worth it? Yes. They are. They really can help reduce the number of speeding tickets you get while traveling on the road.

Sure, reducing your speed will likely reduce the number of speeding tickets as well. However, we all know that plenty of people travel around the speed limit that gets caught by police radar. After all, restrictions on the road can change temporarily (due to road maintenance, etc.), and police speed radar can appear just about anywhere.

Even if you always travel at the speed limit, we see an excellent police radar solid investment. The price isn’t that high, and if it can help prevent even one speeding ticket, we reckon that it will be money well spent. 

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