There seem to be two schools of thought on radar detectors: the first says, “never leave home without it”, while the second says, “not for me”. I’ll admit to being in the latter camp myself, while Mike Musto is definitely in the former. I once got a ticket partially because the cop saw my radar detector cord, and in my mind they eliminate your ability to negotiate yourself out of a speeding ticket. The cop isn’t going to buy that you temporarily lost focus, because the radar detector shows intent to speed. Mike, on the other hand, can give you a long and substantial list of the times when a radar detector saved his bacon. Is one of us right and the other wrong?
Consider this: radar detectors and laser detectors can’t warn against an unfired signal or laser pulse (although some of the latest generation detectors do warn of speed trap locations). In order for these devices to work, someone has to get nailed, and if you’re the only car on the road chances are good that you’re it. In that regard, detectors can give a false sense of immunity, and they don’t do a thing to protect you from being paced by an unmarked car or aircraft. Radar detectors don’t eliminate your chance of a ticket, but there’s no doubt they reduce it under a very specific set of circumstances.
In certain parts of the country, PBA cards have merit during traffic stops, but only if you know the issuing officer. If he’s a patrolman, and he’s the friend of a friend of a friend’s girlfriend, don’t expect the card to do you much good. On the other hand, if he’s a ranking officer (sergeant, lieutenant, or captain) and you know him well, a PBA card can be golden. Ditto for family PBA cards, as long as it’s from an immediate family member. The downside is that PBA cards don’t necessarily work out of state; my New Jersey family PBA card probably won’t do me much good in Florida, unless I want a body cavity search (“We don’t like Yankees down here, boy. Now bend over, grab your ankles and squeal like a pig, because I guar-un-tee this is going to be uncomfortable.”).
So here’s the question: do you use a radar detector, and if so, which model? Do you like it or not? Would you buy it again if you had the chance, or would you opt for something else? Feel free to tell me if a radar detector kept you out of jail, or conversely, put you up at the iron bar inn.