Radar Detectors

Written by Kevin Tavolaro
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Despite their name, modern radar detectors are designed to warn motorists of more than simply radar waves. The devices, used in cars to detect the possibility of impending speed detection devices, have been popular since the 1970s, when they were first designed to respond to radio waves used in speed detection devices. However, modern radar detectors have had to adapt to keep up with advances in speed detection technology.

Speed detection was originally conducted using radio waves, which police would bounce off of moving cars in order to calculate their speed via the Doppler effect. Early radar detectors were able to locate such activity prior to encountering it, allowing motorists to reduce their speed when approaching a hidden speedtrap. However, speed detection technology has evolved to incorporate a number of other wavelengths, as well as pulsed laser light detection, commonly known as "LIDAR."

LIDAR Radar Detectors

While the use of radar alternatives might have been able to mask speed detection devices, radar detectors also evolved. Most radar detectors are now equipped to respond to LIDAR, by pinpointing the infrared light used in pulsed laser light speed detection. While this helps motorists get around the PIDAR problem, some motorists claim that LIDAR detectors do not offer the same level of protection as their predecessors.

When problems do occur with LIDAR detectors, they might have less to do with the product and more to do with increasingly elusive LIDAR speed detection techniques. For example, since LIDAR is much more concentrated than radar, the detectors do not have as much time to provide the driver with a warning. Knowing this, some speedtraps now aim LIDAR detectors from a level very close to the ground, placing them even farther out of the detector's range so that the warning might not sound until it is already too late. Fortunately for speeding motorists everywhere, despite its benefits, LIDAR has not completely replaced radar-based speed detection. In fact, radar speed detection remains the widely used method, possibly due to the expense of LIDAR systems.

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